September 25, 2011

Sprouting up all over

Across Maine, schools are planting gardens – and reaping benefits in the classroom and the cafeteria.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

Starting a school garden can come with some pretty tough challenges.

click image to enlarge

Youngsters at Georgetown Central School show off their garden, which is among those hosting free events for Saturday’s School Garden Open House.

Courtesy Georgetown Central School

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In Scarborough, Wentworth Intermediate School students ready a raised bed.

Courtesy Wentworth Intermediate School

Additional Photos Below


HERE'S A LIST of some of the gardens participating in the Maine School Garden Network's School Garden Open House on Saturday. Events are free and open to the public.

Check with individual schools for times, and go to the Maine School Garden Network's website -- -- to see any additional schools that may be added.


APPLETON: Appleton Village School, 737 Union Road. 785-4504

BATH: The L.O.C.A.L. Garden. Regional School Unit No. 1, Lemont and High Streets.

BELFAST: Troy Howard Middle School, 173 Lincolnville Ave. 338-3320, Ext. 140

GEORGETOWN: Georgetown Central School, 52 Bay Point Road. 371-2160

HIRAM: Sacopee Valley Middle School, 137 South Hiram Road. 625-2490;;

SCARBOROUGH: Wentworth Inter- mediate School, 9 Wentworth Drive. 766-0006;

SOUTH BERWICK: South Berwick Central School, 197 Main St. 384-2333

THORNDIKE: Thor-Nox Community Garden, Mount View Elementary School, 577 Mount View Road.

THORNDIKE: Peace Jam Garden, Mount View High School, Knox Ridge Road. 589-3451;

TURNER: Leavitt Area High School, 21 Matthews Way. 225-3533

WISCASSET: Wiscasset Primary School at the Morris Farm, 156 Gardiner Road. 882-4080;

For one, it takes the help of volunteers, who may already be tied up with other commitments at the school. Plus, somebody has to take care of the garden during summer, when school is closed.

Still, people involved with school gardens across Maine say they are uniquely rewarding and can be part of just about any subject a school teaches.

To show people what school gardens are all about, the Maine School Garden Network will be hosting its first School Garden Open House on Saturday at more than a dozen gardens across the state. Events will be free and open to the public.

"We want the gardens to have more community awareness and more support, because it takes a lot of support and volunteers to run a school garden," said Kat Coriell, a retired veterinarian from Durham and chairperson of the network.

Coriell says the network has about 40 registered member gardens, but some people estimate there are about 200 school or school-related gardens in the state. Part of their popularity is due to the emphasis on fresh and local foods, and some of the gardens grow food for use in the school cafeteria.

But a larger reason, Coriell thinks, is that a school garden can be used as a hands-on learning ground in many subjects, from science and math to history, art and language arts.

"It's about getting kids outside, but it's also something that every teacher in the school can incorporate," said Coriell.

The Maine School Garden Network began a few years ago as a resource for people who wanted to start school gardens. It began as an offshoot of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association but now runs on its own, Coriell said.

Every school garden is a little different, ranging from a small flower garden or vegetable patch to larger operations with greenhouses.

Some of the school gardens that will be open during School Garden Open House Day are:

The Wiscasset Primary School Garden at Morris Farm will be open from 10 a.m. to noon with dairy goats, calves, rabbits and chickens to pet. There will also be a cider press that will squeeze apples from the schoolyard, and free snacks made from produce harvested by students out of the garden during Maine Harvest Lunch Week.

The Georgetown Central School's garden will be open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The school's wood-fired outdoor pizza oven will be up and running, cooking pizzas with homemade sauce and vegetables. There will also be samples of pasta with a variety of sauces. Families are invited to tour the garden and greenhouse, and children will be able to construct fairy houses, make leaf rubbings, sample the harvest and play games.

The L.O.C.A.L. Garden for Regional School Unit No. 1 will be open in Bath from 10 a.m. to noon. There will be a garlic planting lesson at 10 a.m. and a composting workshop at 11 a.m. There will also be pumpkin bread and apple cider.

The Troy Howard Middle School garden in Belfast will have tours of the gardens, composting operations, a heated greenhouse and a new solar outdoor kitchen. The tours will be given by seventh- and eighth-graders, who will also answer questions. Garden organizers hope to serve dips and salsa made from ingredients from the garden.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


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Additional Photos

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In another bed at the Wentworth School Community Garden, a student plants peppers. School gardens can be used for hands-on learning in a variety of subjects, says Kat Coriell of the Maine School Garden Network.

Courtesy Wentworth Intermediate School

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At Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, summer camp helpers tended the garden while school was out. From left are Jeff Lovejoy, Stuart Cole, Laurie Allen, Margaret Elliot, Mike Samsel, Megan Samsel, Alex Johnson, Alison DeFeo, Mackensie Moore, Lucy Bonneville and Clare Jordan.

Courtesy Troy Howard Middle School

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The Troy Howard Middle School garden, a small portion of which is pictured here, includes a heated greenhouse, two hoop houses and more, and will be open on Saturday for tours.

Courtesy Troy Howard Middle School

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