Monday, June 10, 2013

June Newsletter for Certified SFG Instructors

Official Publication of Square Foot Gardening Foundation

 Harvest of  News
In this Issue:
  • Welcome to new Certified Instructors
  • The Idea File
  • Let's Get SFG into ALL the Schools, by Mel Bartholomew
  • Happy Father's Day
  • What can you do as a SFG Instructor? By Mel Bartholomew
  • Get Inspired: Featured Photo by Adrienne Milligan
  • Quote of the Month by Portland Public Schools
  • Announcements & Upcoming Events




                             Alejandra Redden of St. Petersburg, Florida


    Curtis (Curt) Henry of Carnegie, PA

    David Marshall of Chelsea, AL

                                             Sara Hall of Clearfield, UT

     Adrienne Milligan of
    Puyallup, WA

    Heather Fulghum of Knoxville, TN

    No photos - sorry! Welcome to new Certified Instructor:

                                    Joe Farinaccio of Pennville, NJ


     The Idea File

    Teach the Teachers

    For this idea, we'll use a model class (see it at this link This is a continuing education course for school teachers. It is being taught at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling. The course aspires to "prepare teachers to use school gardens as a learning environment while integrating food and garden lessons into their classroom curriculum."

    School officials in Portland, Oregon, like many locations around the country (and the world) are looking to incorporate sustainable practices into the classroom curriculum, and in the school kitchens. It's an idea whose time has come. As you know, SFGF has been calling for this for a very long time.

    If you'd like to teach a class for teachers in your area, this class might be a good model to get ideas from. As you know, you have many teaching aids available to you at the resources link. Just a few phone calls or interviews, and this could be a wonderful opportunity for certified SFGF instructors.

    School Kitchen Garden Programs

    SFGF needs to be in the schools! Another idea is to create a school kitchen garden for demonstrations and for food for the children:
    • After-school training programs (for children, teachers, and parents)
    • Garden-to-cafeteria programs
    • Help teachers incorporate the garden knowledge into their curriculums
    • Put up a demonstration garden and offer training at daycares – it's never too early to start learning about the wonders of gardening
    • What about Bible Schools, usually held in June? 

    Edible Food Forest

    See the June issue of SFGF's general newsletter for a story about the nation's first edible food forest in Seattle, Washington. Victoria Boudman, CEO of SFGF, is looking to recreate this idea in Columbia, South Carolina. If you're interested in helping in Columbia, or in starting a similar project in your area, please let us know!

      Let's Get SFG into ALL the Schools

    By Mel Bartholomew

    "You can go into nursing homes and train them to do table-top gardens, and if they've gardened all their life, it's very nice and they love it. They like to grow things and it gives them something to do. But for the future, that doesn't help too much. We've got to get into all the schools. And school programs are big these days, if we can get in there and teach them the right way to garden. Unfortunately, many programs are still following the government's way of teaching single-row gardening.

     In fact, our county ag agents are wonderful people, they're highly trained, they know all diseases, insects, and problems, when to plant, what varieties are good in your neighborhood, and you should go to them for that advice, but they're still teaching single-row gardening. Some of them have broadened to wide raised beds, but that's as far as they'll go. They've been taught and trained all their life to grow a certain way, and they're not about to change. And I don't mean that as a negative, but we've got to get into the schools and that's where volunteers can help. 

    We make a school kit. We have a lesson plan. We're doing all kinds of things to help out in schools. We'll work with any group that wants to get Square Foot Gardening in schools. We have one teacher out in California who came to us and got certified. She teaches every subject of her class from the Square Foot Garden. How can you do that? 

    Well, first of all, she had the original book, she followed it, the kids saw it, they thumbed through it, looked at all the tables and read some stuff. So they had to learn to read something and it was kind of exciting for them. And then she said we're going to write the author a letter. So I want you to write Mr. Mel and tell him about your square foot – what did you plant in it and why and tell him how it's doing. So they did. 

    Well, here you go, depending upon their age; they're going to learn penmanship or script, they have to learn to spell; they have to learn good English to make a sentence, use verbs, nouns, and all that. So she's teaching all that Language through this letter they're going to write to the author. They're all excited because this is someone on the cover of a book they're using. Well believe it or not, they got a letter back from the author. And he answered every single one of the letters. They were so thrilled. They printed them all out – this was by email. Can you imagine their pride taking it home -- a letter from the author – a famous person on the cover of a book – writing to them, with their name on the letter, and talking about their Square Foot Garden? Sandy said it just worked wonders. 

    But they studied Geology and Geography. Where do you find peat moss? What is it? Well, they had to Google that and find out the definition of peat moss. They took a trip to a nursery, got samples, and had a talk with the nurseryman, and found out why it is included in Mel's Mix. They got a map of the world. They found out where it comes from, how old it is, they found out it was a relative of coal and it's made from live plants that have fallen down and decomposed and then get covered. And as you go deeper and deeper in the ground, you go from peat moss, and the next layer below is peat, which they burn as a fuel in England, and the layer below that is coal, and you have soft coal and deeper is hard coal. They learned all about geology. How many millions of years did all this happen and what does it look like? They experimented by burning these things that were a fuel. Then she taught them, what is a fuel? And they went through the history of sticks of wood, grass, coal, and what's the next big discovery in America – oil! Then gas, and now we have solar and wind. 

    She took them from A to Z just because they were studying Square Foot Gardening and she got them all interested in peat moss and compost. The next year (I won't go into any more detail but you can imagine) they put on a play. They had to write the play; they had to act it out. Kids that didn't want to be on the stage made the props and background. They had music, so the musical students were able to play. Tickets were sold 10 cents apiece. They had to open a bank account and keep records. Think of all the different things that would go into making a play. All of these things are how to live your life – what practical things do you need to learn? And of course, the English, the Arithmetic, the Social Studies and Music – all of this was part of everything she taught. 

    Now as the children get older, we put them to work. We say, all right, you've learned how to do Square Foot Gardening in your younger years – now you're going to teach. Let's say they're in the 7th grade, we say we want you to go to the 4th grade and you be the teacher and you explain to the students how you're going to teach them how to Square Foot Garden. 

    I think it was a high school in Utah - I've forgotten, I've been so many places – no it was in New York, it was on Long Island – they had a greenhouse and a lot of greenhouse students so it was easy to teach them. Guess where I sent them? To not only the nursing homes, but to a retirement village. People who did not have a garden out of their unit, they got permission and the kids taught them how to have a SFG. Think of the intermingling there of the age groups."

     These are ideas we've done, and we know they work. We've already donated 350 gardens to every school in Utah. Can you help us take SFG to schools in your city and state? 

    e-Card by

     What Can You Do as a SFG Instructor?

    By Mel Bartholomew

    What can you do as a certified SFG instructor? You can teach. You have prestige. If you like to teach people, if you have that good will in you, you want to give something back to the country, that's what you do. You can also start a business and make money. You can buy a case of books from the foundation at wholesale rate; sell them to your students and at your lectures at retail. We have one man in Utah who is paid by the Community Continuing Education $150-$200 or so to give 3-hour lectures, and then he sells 20-30 books. He teaches at night and in the spring. He gets 50 people in a class. You could make almost $10 on a book – that's $300 for the books and $200 for the teaching. It's $500 in one night for three hours. That's pretty good.

    But we have all sorts of ways to make money. We'll help you start your own home business if you want. We have another teacher who has the whole family involved. They've decided to build garden kits – for which you have to be approved by the foundation – and they do. They advertise they'll help you pick out and install a SFG. They arrive in their van, the kids help out, and they install the gardens. It's just like a landscaper coming in to install something for you.  We can also have you travel if you'd like to go to foreign countries. 

    Let's take for example, Doctors without Borders. They have a staff of nurses that go with them, they travel from country to country, and they do wonderful things. We send a teacher along with other groups. We train those people – the volunteers – and at the same time that they're helping people with other things, they can teach the same people how to garden. They can teach SFG at the same time they're giving people new noses, or teeth, or some kind of surgery, or helping them medically in other ways.



     Photo of Adrienne Milligan's SFG!

     Quote of the Month

    “Knowledge of food—how it is grown, who grows it, how it is prepared, it’s connection to traditions, sustainability and  its influence in shaping society—is integral to a comprehensive education.”
    - from Portland Public Schools Wellness Policy 

     Announcements & Upcoming Events

    June 13, 2013 –11 am & 1 pm, Westport Farmer's Market, Westport, Connecticut Amie Guyette Hall's "Meet me at the Farmer's Market" SFG Series Learn more

    June 15, 2013, 11-12 noon, Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville, Minnesota, Free Square Foot Gardening for Kids Class by John Zweber, Dakota County Master Gardener Learn more

    June 22, 2013, 1:00 pm, Westport, Connecticut, SFG Instructor & Health Coach, Amie Guyette Hall, teaches SFG basics, – Learn more

    June 22, 2013, 9 am to 12 noon, Navarre, Florida – Basics of Square Foot Gardening Class Learn more

    June 22, 2013, SFG 101, 10 am – 11:30 am; SFG 201, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, Glen Burnie, Maryland. Classes taught by Kim Roman, US Veteran & SFG instructor.
    Take one or both classes. Learn more

    September 20-22, 2013, Cincinnati, Ohio, proposed 3-day SFG Symposium to become certified as an SFG Instructor. Details are not yet finalized; however, if you have an interest in attending this symposium, email for more information.