SGN member schools eligible for Teen Mentor Program

The School Garden Teen Mentor Program will provide SGN member schools with trained high school students who will work with garden coordinators during the summer months.  These dedicated high school teens have completed a Garden Mentorship Training at Santa Rosa Junior College’s award winning Shone Farms. They have been trained by Robert Landry, SRJC Sustainable Ag instructor and Len Greenwood, Montgomery High School Green Pathway Director.

In addition to the in depth training,the School Garden Teen Mentor Program  provides ongoing mentorship, assists with teen coordination and pays an hourly wage to participating teens!!

If interested in working with a teen in your garden this summer please complete SGN’s  Membership Form and contact Len Greenwood  at <>.


Garden Enhanced Nutrition Workshop

Garden Enhanced Nutrition Workshop

Garden Enhanced Nutrition Workshop
Salmon Creek School Garden
Occidental CA
Join school garden teachers, Erin O’Brien and Laurel Anderson for an engaging and interactive day in the garden exploring best practices for developing a hands-on nutrition component to your garden program.
Participants will explore activities and concepts that span grades k-8 -with a focus on thematic approaches such as Eating From the Rainbow and
Botany on Your Plate. Will highlight the innovative  NOURISH curriculum which uses media to build on the lessons learned in the garden to engage students in questions about where are food comes from.
We will prepare a garden based lunch together.
To register or for more information :

Leave No Child Inside Assembly Bill 1603

The great outdoors — including those wetlands, ocean waters, forests and meadows that surround us — are the original classroom. The science, math and literacy that youth learn from textbooks inside classrooms is enhanced by outdoor learning. Author Richard Louv discussed this concept in his best-selling book “Last Child Left In The Woods,” a part of his effort to combat what he calls a “nature deficit” among today’s youth. When applied to education, the concept is simple: leave no child inside.

Assemblyman Mark Stone has introduced legislation that would help get more youth outdoors to learn. Assembly Bill 1603 would establish a California Outdoor Environmental Education Program under which grants would be awarded to programs operated by public entities or nonprofits. Additional consideration would be given to projects that serve at-risk youth and those that align with Common Core educational standards and integrate instruction in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“In many underserved communities, participation in outdoor environmental education and recreation programs are the only exposure kids have to nature and the environment,” Stone said when the bill was introduced. “Outdoor environmental education provides students with memorable real-world experiences with the environment, which increases interest in science and environmental stewardship.”

Few institutional funding sources now exist for outdoor environmental education even though it has been shown to enhance academic achievement, critical thinking and lifetime environmental stewardship. The grant program established under AB 1603 would supplement other funds that outdoor environmental education programs currently raise from generous individuals, foundations, and businesses.

Studies have documented outdoor environmental education’s positive impact. In 2012, San Jose State master’s candidate Lauren Hanneman studied the long-term effect of O’Neill Sea Odyssey’s free oceangoing science program on students. Her analysis found that 75 percent of youth who participated in the program five to seven years previously had retained knowledge pertaining to nonpoint source pollution which they had been taught.

A study required by the approval of Assembly Bill 1330 authored by then-Assemblyman Joe Simitian in 2003 was commissioned by the State Department of Education in 2005. Entitled “Effects of Outdoor Education Programs for Children in California,” its results showed that low-income students who attended an outdoor education program raised their science scores by 27 percent and increased their concern for conservation. It also found an increase in attitudes toward science as well as an increase in self-esteem, leadership, relationships with teachers, cooperation, and conflict resolution.

You can also find proof of outdoor education’s impact in the stories of students who have experienced it. The next time you see a young person who has had an outdoor learning experience, ask them about it. Their answer will make you a believer, if you weren’t already. AB 1603 will enable more youth to tell such stories about nature’s original classroom.

Kris Beall is a board member of Watsonville Wetlands Watch ( ) while Dan Haifley is executive director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey.


First Lady Michelle Obama adds a Pollinator Garden to White House Garden

A first for the South Lawn fruit and vegetable plot, it is designed to benefit bees and Monarch butterflies…
Washington, DC - On Wednesday as she replanted her Kitchen Garden during the sixth annual Spring plantingFirst Lady Michelle Obama added a pollinator garden to her showcase vegucation plot, the inspiration for her Let’s Move! campaign.

Designed to attract bees and Monarch butterflies, the pollinator garden is a first, Mrs. Obama said, and filled with 34 varieties of non-edible plants–including milkweed, butterfly weed,  phlox, lobelia, asters, and foxglove.

Clad in black jeans, a grey t-shirt, a billowy steel-grey anorak and black leather tennis shoes, Mrs. Obama instantly became America’s most high-profile conservation activist as she described the critical need for pollinator gardens after decades of unexplained bee deaths and butterfly declines.

Digging the pollinator plants into the bed

“A pollinator garden helps to encourage the production of bees and Monarch butterflies,” Mrs. Obama said.

“They pollinate the plants, they help the plants grow.  They’re dying because of disease–we don’t even know why some beehives are just totally disappearing.”

The loss of the insects “could be a problem for the planet because if you don’t have insects and great pollinators to pollinate the plants, it could affect our food source, it could affect our ability to continue to grow things,” Mrs. Obama explained.

“It could affect our ability to continue to grow things.  And that would be a problem. So this garden is going to help to contribute to improving that problem.”

Mrs. Obama’s world famous plot has formerly been devoted to exclusively to edibles.  And the First Lady didn’t mention it, but Monarch butterflies are now part of President Barack Obama’sagenda.  In February as he attended the North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico, Mr. Obama joined his counterparts from Mexico and Canada to announce a task force to create a plan for saving the continent’s endangered migration of Monarch butterflies.

“We have agreed to conserve the Monarch butterfly as an emblematic species of North America which unites our three countries,” said Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Many helpers joined Mrs. Obama for the transplanting

The new pollinator garden is located in a long bed on the northernmost side of the 1,500 square-foot plot, which is managed with organic practices.  Mrs. Obama had gloves on as she hoisted a shovel to plant goldenrod,  Shenandoah switchgrass, little bluestem, and spicebush (the full list is below).

The First Lady was joined by Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass, 25 local elementary school students, the White House chefs, National Park Service gardeners, and members of FoodCorps as sheworked under a sunny sky with just enough cloud to prevent squinting, a relief after the District’s long winter that included record snowfalls.

Lobelia for the pollinator garden

The First Lady and her helpers transplanted young plants into the pollinator garden, rather than starting from seed, pulling the new crops from buckets and plastic pots.  The bed also sits across from the White House beehive, the first to be on the 18-acre campus, installed at Mrs. Obama’s behest when she began the Kitchen Garden in 2009.  It’s produced hundreds of pounds of honey in the last five years.

Still, while bees and butterflies may be thrilled with the pollinator garden, First Daughters Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12, will not be, Mrs. Obama admitted.

The project “is not going to make the Obama girls happy because they don’t really like bees,” Mrs. Obama said, a subject she’s discussed previously.

“But bees are good.  Bees are a good thing,” she said.  ”So you guys are going to help do that, and that’s the first time we’ve done a pollinator garden.  Pretty cool, huh?”

NEW! SGN Membership Program

The School Garden Network of Sonoma County  is excited to launch  a new FREE membership program!  We invite all Sonoma County schools to participate and help us stay connected!

We are pleased to announce that our first participating business is Harmony Farm Supply  in Sebastopol. SGN members will receive significant discount at Harmony Farm Supply, receive a quarterly newsletter and early announcements of free seeds, plants and other resources. SGN plans to partner with more local retailers in the future for additional discounts to schools. (Let us know if you can help with this effort!)

To become a member of the School Garden Network please fill out the following Membership Form and sign up to participate in the Community Forum on the SGN website. The Forum is SGN’s community bulletin board, where information is exchanged about curricular resources, free seeds and plants, workshops, grants, and what’s happening at school gardens in and beyond the county.

Once these steps are complete SGN will send you a membership card and a Harmony Farm Supply application to open a school garden account.

Must be a Sonoma County school to participate.


School Garden on Wheels!!

Just two weeks into its Spring tour, non-profit Compass Green, an innovative, out-of-the-box/in-the-box, school garden on wheels has already surpassed its 1,000 student mark. Compass Green is a fully functional greenhouse built in the back of an 18ft. box truck that grows vegetables, grains, and herbs and is powered by waste vegetable oil.

Compass Green Team, Nick Runkle and Justin Cutter, biodynamic farming pros, teach practical farming tools and raise awareness on sustainability through presentations, workshops, and greenhouse tours at schools and events across the country. This dynamic duo feels that everyone, regardless of demographic and age should have access to sustainability education and delicious healthy food.

Their curriculum is focused on Bio-intensive methods of sustainable farming—producing the maximum yields with the minimum amount of resources.

With an ever-increasing population and an alarming decrease in farmable soil, Compass Green is dedicated to sharing practical solutions to turn agricultural scarcity into one of abundance. Compass Green aims to inspire people across the country to be creative and utilize any and all space they can to grow food.



5299 Hall and Willowside Road in west Santa Rosa

          WE HAVE THOUSANDS OF PLANTS: a variety of perennials, roses, grasses, small Japanese maples, Trident maples, large deodar cedar trees, Redwoods and cypress as well as a multitude of succulents and BONSAI crab apple, Chinese quince and elm trees. PRICE: $3 – 1 gal.
    We have over 15 varieties of SPECIALITY JAPANESE MAPLES, 3-6 FEET TALL & Red/Yellow Magnolias at $25-$40!!
Saturdays, 9AM to 2 PM

March 15
April 26
May 17
June 7
June 28

Please share this information with neighbors or co-workers.

Rain does not cancel. Questions?   707 569-4724
Willowside Middle School Nursery is a working Nursery with student involvement and self sustaining through regular PLANT SALES.

School Lunch Tray Photo contest

Does your school cafeteria practice scratch cooking? Does a local farmer provide the freshest broccoli to your students? Do fresh greens from the school garden end up in a healthy lunch salad? The California Farm to School Network is holding a contest to celebrate the school lunch trays throughout the state that feature the great ways that California is leading the way in providing good food to students from preschool through high school.

Winners will receive:

A copy of Life Lab’s The Growing Classroom, an award-winning resource book for educators contains 480 pages of science, math, and language arts activities that you can do with your students in the garden ($40 value). A set of 140 beautiful California Department of Education’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Cards that displays a color photograph of a fruit or vegetable with its name in English and Spanish, plus useful nutrition and other facts on the reverse ($55 value). Recognition and celebration in media and communications for the California Farm to School Network, a statewide initiative that links Farm to School practitioners across the state.

How to enter:

Send an email with a picture of a school meal to and include a few sentences about what makes this meal great, whether it’s extra healthy, garden-fresh, cooked from scratch, local, you name it! Contest ends Friday, March 7th, so submit now!

- See more at:

Free Seeds at Share Exchange

We just received a large donation of Free Seeds from Rene’s Seeds.

They are in a filing cabinet at the Share Exchange in Santa osa. The seeds live in a filing cabinet in the annex next to the store. You need to get a key from the store to open the annex. Thanks to Wendy Krupnik for organizing this donation for the School Garden Network!

West County Community Seed Exchange Saturday, February 22

West County Community Seed Exchange
Monthly Gathering
Saturday, February 22, 2014
9 – 10:30 – Work in the Seed Garden
9 – 11 – Seed Library OPEN
11 – 12 – Class: SEED SAVING 101Learn why it’s important to save seed and what you will need to know in order to be a successful seed saver.

We’ll discuss what kinds of seed to save, basic pollination, family relations, how to keep your seed pure and give examples of what is easy to start with if you’re a beginner.

St. Stephen’s Church
500 Robinson Road, Sebastopol
off Bodega Hwy just west of downtown or 707.829.5234

You are invited to get FREE SEED from the 200+ varieties of vegetables, flowers, herbs, and grains in our Seed Library. All seeds were grown out in our Seed Garden or in other parts of Sonoma County. We hope you will grow some of this stock out to seed and return it to us next year. If you are already a seed saver, please consider donating some of your seeds to us.