January 2023: Composting
Dear Wisconsin Farm to School,

I'd like to share a story from Jennica Skoug, who founded the Wisconsin School Garden Network newsletter way back in 2014.

"One spring, I was helping some third grade students plant corn in our three sisters garden. One group had finished planting their seeds ahead of the others, so I sent them off to get some compost to incorporate into the garden. 

Five minutes later, the kids returned with cups full of onion peels, grass clippings, and other kitchen scraps. My a-ha moment came when they were ready to dump the contents on top of their corn seeds. The other teacher and I burst into laughter. The kids, having just come from the kitchen area, had run to our compost bin and picked up what they had composted twenty minutes earlier, not the finished compost for the garden. We found the finished compost pile together, had an excellent teachable moment, and all was well with the Three Sisters. But I learned how much work is still to be done in connecting kids with the concept of compost, and remembered what a great educational tool it can be."

Jennica's story beautifully illustrates that composting at school is about so much more than nurturing gardens. It can bolster learning in and out of the classroom for all ages through lessons on decomposition, waste reduction, soil nutrients, and much more.

And, as Jennica pointed out in a past Wisconsin School Garden Network newsletter, it can even be used as a fundraiser if compost is bagged and sold by students. 

The resources featured in this month's newsletter are perfect for programs looking to add a composting project, classrooms interested in what happens to our food scraps, or even programs with well-established compost bins looking for new activities.

Already have a compost program? Tell us about it! We want to see the fresh soil you're turning over in your bins and the new lessons you have turning over in your minds.

Renata Solan
Communications Director
Rooted/ Wisconsin School Garden Network

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Throughout the newsletter, you will see these icons after descriptions of resources, funding opportunities, and more to help you find information that is right for your program:
Announcements & Highlights

New, ECE-focused version of the Teaching in Nature's Classroom course

Since 2020, the Teaching in Nature’s Classroom Course has offered a learning community for educators working with children of any age to learn with and from each other. We are excited to announce that we will now be offering a version of the course that is specifically for early care and education (ECE) providers. This new version will include all of the same assignments, materials, and networking opportunities with modifications to address the unique needs of the early care environment. If you are an early care provider, you are invited to register for either course. The ECE version of the course will be offered at the same time as the original course, from February 13 – May 30, 2023. If you have questions, please reach out to Erica Krug at

Learn more here!

Register now for Wisconsin Chili Lunch

Join schools, hospitals, early care sites, and more to celebrate all Wisconsin has to offer by using WI-grown products to make your Wisconsin Chili Lunch. The Wisconsin Chili Lunch is another great way to build strong communities, grow healthy eaters, support local farmers, and develop local food purchasing connections. 

When you register for the event you will receive a Wisconsin Chili Lunch guide to help you find local products and plan your Wisconsin Chili Lunch.

Learn more and register here!


Watch Wisconsin School Garden Network's Nathan Larson sing the Decomposition Song. Always a crowd-pleaser!

Watch the video and learn the song here!
Joke of the Month
Click the green joke of the month button below to see the answer to this month's joke and to see Wisconsin School Garden Network's library of past jokes.
Have a farm to school joke to share? Email Rooted's Communications Director Renata Solan at
Joke of the Month: What did the gardener say when the kids made fun of her compost pile?
Tools & Resources

Kids Gardening Decomposition Activity Pack

Kids can learn more about decomposition and meet some of the organisms responsible! This activity pack includes four activities and corresponding worksheets centered around ecology, sustainability, and math. View resource.

Kids Gardening Make a Worm Composting Bin

Thinking about trying worm composting? It's easy to build your own bin! A great opportunity for learners of all ages. View resource.

Wisconsin Local Foods Database

The Wisconsin Local Foods Database connects communities to their local farmers. Use the map below to locate farm businesses near you. Our database is always growing. Help us by adding your farm business or school! View resource.

USDA: Reducing Food Waste at K-12 Schools

This resource has information for K-12 schools about the special role they play in reducing, recovering, and recycling food waste on their premises. View resource.
Webinars, Conferences, Events & Trainings
National Children and Youth Garden Symposium Call for Proposals
Deadline: January 13, 2023
NCYGS 2023 will be held in Knoxville, Tennessee, July 12–15. Garden educators (pre-K through 12th) convene to learn about current trends in nature-based education and share resources, best practices, and inspiring stories with peers across the country. Sessions may be presented in either a lecture or workshop format. Learn more and submit proposal here.

Outdoor Learning Virtual Workshop Seasonal Series
Tuesdays starting January 17, 2023 // 6:00 p.m. // Virtual
Upcoming sessions:
Jan. 17, 2023: Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults
Jan. 24, 2023: A Beginners Guide to Learning Outdoors
Jan. 31, 2023: Climate Change & Sustainability Education Resources 
Feb. 7, 2023: Taking Math Outdoors: Practical Ideas & Examples
Learn more and register here.

GSG Summit Webinar Series: Music In the Garden
January 18, 2023 // 1:00 p.m. // Virtual
This session will demonstrate how to incorporate multi-sensory musical experiences into your school garden curriculum. You will leave with a fresh perspective on teaching, practical tips and tricks for working with different age groups, and a host of creative musical ideas to try out with your classes
Learn more and register here.
Wisconsin Farm to ECE Workgroup Meeting
January 18, 2023 // 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. // Virtual
Join the WI Farm to ECE workgroup for updates, community of practice, and discussion of the current state of Farm to ECE in our region. We welcome farmers, ECE providers, support organizations, and any community member interested in Farm to ECE work! Email to be added to our mailing list and calendar invites.

Kids Gardening Webinar Series: Culturally Inclusive Teaching in the Garden
January 19, 2023 // 6:00 p.m. // Virtual
Join us in 2023 for a new webinar series in partnership with the Clif Family Foundation: Culturally Inclusive Teaching in the Garden. Starting in January we will explore ways to celebrate and center culture through garden-based learning. Learn more and register here.

Become a Life Lab-Certified School Garden Educator
January 23 - May 8, 2023 // 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. // Virtual
Become a confident and knowledgeable garden educator who inspires a love of learning, an appreciation of healthy food, and a connection to nature in every child through garden-based education. Live sessions are every Monday. Learn more and register here.

Teaching in Nature's Classroom Free Online Course for Educators
February 13 - May 30, 2023 // Virtual
For the first time ever, the Teaching in Nature's Classroom course will be offered in its original form and as a special version for early care workers. This course is an opportunity for educators new to outdoor and garden-based learning, as well as educators who are experienced in the field, to consider best practices and reflect on their own teaching practice in outdoor learning environments, with a focus on school and community youth gardens. The coursework is designed to be flexible and self-directed so you can fulfill the course requirements according to your optimal timeframe and in relation to your concurrent teaching duties and other obligations. Learn more.

Funding Opportunities
National Young Farmer Coalition Young Farmer Grant
Deadline: January 13, 2023 
Young Farmer Grants are designed to provide a flexible financial boost to young farmers building long-term careers in agriculture. This fund can be used for anything that will further your goals as a farmer, even if that means just getting started. The goal of this fund is to provide financial assistance for any cost that currently limits your ability to start, run, or grow your operation in the way you’d like. 
Learn more here.

Wisconsin Local Food Purchase Assistance (WI LFPA) Program
Deadline: January 20, 2023 
The WI LFPA Program is offering $1.5 million in pre-season contract agreements to WI farmers. Accepted applicants will gain access to producer education and trainings regarding food safety, wholesale readiness, and market opportunities. Products purchased through the program will supply food security efforts across the state
Learn more here.
GroMoreGood Grassroots Grant
Deadline: February 10, 2023
In 2023, 160 programs will receive $500 - $1,500 in funding. Applicants must be planning to use the funds to install new or improve existing youth gardens or greenspaces. Esta subvención también está disponible en español. Learn more here.
Job Opportunities
FairShare PartnerShares Program Intern
Deadline: Applications accepted until position is filled
The Partner Shares Program Intern will primarily assist with administration of the Partner Shares Program, FairShare's food access program, which provides financial assistance to eligible households toward the purchase of CSA shares from a FairShare farm in their community. The Partner Shares Program Intern will also provide additional organization administrative support to the organization. Learn more and apply here. 
FairShare Executive Director
Deadline: For best consideration, apply by January 16, 2023
FairShare is seeking an Executive Director to build on the successful growth of the organization and steer the next phase of organizational growth, including a new strategic plan with a vision for supporting an evolving small-scale farming landscape. Learn more and apply here. 
UW Extension Farm to Institution Outreach Specialist
Deadline: January 26, 2023
The Farm to Institution (F2I) Outreach Specialist will work to establish a farm to institution initiative within the Extension Community Food Systems Program. The primary function of this position is to foster regional food supply chain and market development for Wisconsin farmers through outreach activities that focus on value chain coordination and capacity-building, including network development, direct education, tool and resource development, evaluation, and grant writing. Learn more and apply here. 
Crawford County Community Development Educator Position
Deadline: January 26, 2023
This Community Development Extension Educator position will primarily serve Crawford County, WI, and surrounding communities. The Community Development Extension Educator designs, delivers, and evaluates research-based educational programming and services aligned with the position's programmatic focus: Food entrepreneurship and local food market development with an initial emphasis on supporting area farmers markets and small-scale producers and processors. Learn more and apply here. 
News & Policy Updates

USDA Launches 2022 Census of Agriculture

In November, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) mailed invitations to respond to the 2022 Census of Agriculture to agricultural producers across the nation. Producers can respond online or via mail by February 6, 2023. These data will impact decisions that will shape the future of American agriculture for years to come. Learn more.

Edible Schoolyard New Orleans: Spanish Cooking Club

"When asked how Spanish Cooking Club came about, Chef Sasha says, “We saw the leadership potential in so many of our bilingual and Spanish-speaking students. At the same time, we saw a desire in other students to learn Spanish. So why not bring the two together?”"
Check out this firsthand account of a cooking club in action! Read more here.
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Copyright © 2021, Growing Together: Wisconsin's Farm to School/ECE and School Garden Newsletter, All rights reserved.


Growing Together: Wisconsin's Farm to School/ECE and School Garden Newsletter is a collaboration of Rooted and Wisconsin School Garden Network. Growing Together is published and distributed by Rooted.

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