April 2022: Phenology in the Garden
Dear Wisconsin Farm to School,

Happy spring! Though we’ve had some icky wintry slush this month, I’m happy to know that the moisture will help our gardens get off to a good start. When the sun returns and the temperatures begin creeping up, one of my favorite activities to do with young learners is phenology. This is a fancy word for talking about what’s happening in nature right now. 

Though this isn’t an especially green time of year, what’s happening in our gardens and on our farms right now will have a real impact on the foods we harvest months from now. From soil moisture to air temperature to wildlife, what we observe about today’s garden will help to inform what we see later this summer.

Spring is an amazing time to practice observing and identifying the migrating birds and insects, bravely sprouting plants, and interesting fungi you may see in your natural areas. A nature journal can be a great way to engage learners of all ages in daily or weekly observation. From there, you can explore your data with charts, research the species you find, or create art projects about your local biome. I like to use this worksheet from UW Arboretum to create phenology wheels and share observations. 

April is also Citizen Science Month! You can engage your students in citizen science (sometimes called “community science”), identifying species and collecting data that is used by researchers around the world! Check out – you can even create a class profile or project that your students can contribute to outside of school. Or use to learn about other projects in your area. 

Happy exploring!
Hawthorn McCracken, Farm to School and ECE Outreach Specialist

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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:

Celebrate Kids Garden month with!

This year, the Kids Garden Month theme is “How does your garden take care of you?” In addition to the annual kids contest, you can celebrate Kids Garden Month in the Kids Garden Community! Each week in April, the educators, parents, and volunteers helping so many kids find joy in gardening can share all the ways that gardens care for you for a chance to win weekly prizes and to inspire our gardening community. Look for a new discussion thread in the Open Forum each Tuesday. One winner will be selected the following week to receive a package of garden goodies. Learn more and here.

Wisconsin School Garden Day is Thursday, May 19!

Let's celebrate the people and programs giving Wisconsin’s youth access to innovative, hands-on educational opportunities. You can participate in Wisconsin School Garden Day by engaging in some type of garden-based education activity or celebration on May 19, 2022 (or another day that week). Any activity that involves kids engaging with a garden or gardening–including, but not limited to, activities around planting, observing, art, literature, STEM, weeding, and planning–can be a way to celebrate Wisconsin School Garden Day. Learn more and browse the activity guide here.

Join Wisconsin's youth garden community on Instagram!

We're excited to announce that there's a new way to engage with and learn about youth garden programs across Wisconsin! Follow Wisconsin School Garden Network on Instagram and use the hashtag #WISchoolGardens on your own posts so that we can share about your sites. Our account is new and growing and we are especially excited to be able to share photos from this year's #WISchoolGardenDay on May 19. If you have photos and stories from your garden that you want us to share, tag us or email Renata at We can't wait to see what you're up to!
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 seed say when the flower was being annoying?
Tools & Resources

Garlic Growing and Activities

We heard your requests! In honor of National Garlic Day on April 19th, Rooted and Denver Urban Gardens collaborated to create an overview for growing, eating, and learning with garlic. This resource is available in both English and Spanish and includes an original song, book recommendations, and recipes. 
View resource in English.
View resource in Spanish.
Watch Growing Garlic webinar.

STEAM in the School Garden

Establishing a food garden in a school setting offers an array of exciting science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) learning opportunities, and is a great way to teach and reinforce state and national learning standards. In this recorded webinar, a panel of experienced garden educators discuss connecting school food gardens to STEAM curriculum. View the recording.

Plants Want to Grow

The truth is, plants want to grow! Your job as a gardener is more often about choosing the right conditions and making gentle adjustments than having all the information or fanciest tools. Gardening, especially with young learners, is a journey best enjoyed with messiness, humor, and grace. This resource from Rooted has some of the basic information you need to start exploring gardening at your program. View resource.

Lessons to Grow By

In fall of 2020, Kids Gardening piloted a new program, originally designed for caregivers teaching at home or educators teaching remotely. Over the course of four months, educators explored three topics: pollinators, plant needs, and plant parts. The pollinator unit is available for free, so if you are curious as to what the format is like, start there! The plant parts and plant needs units are $5 each, or you can bundle all three units for $8. All 3 of lessons are available for free in Spanish. View resource.

The Health Benefits of Gardening

From a young age, individuals learn about the world through observation, discovery, and interaction with their surroundings. If you have ever taken a walk through a park with a child, you may have noticed a change in their behavior. This resource features the many ways that gardens benefit young learners, as well as multiple lesson plans and resources on garden creation.  View resource.

Wisconsin Harvest of the Month

With spring upon us, it's time to move out of winter's root vegetables and see what fresh greens and herbs are available in the coming weeks and months. Through Wisconsin Harvest of the Month, students taste, explore, and learn about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. Participation is flexible to meet the needs of your program Learn more and register.
Webinars, Conferences, Events & Trainings
For Kids By Kids! Livestream Garden Chat
April 14, 2022 // 3:00 p.m. CST // Virtual 
Created just for kids, this 45-minute livestream will celebrate Kids Garden Month with three kid gardeners sure to uplift and inspire. Join Kendall Rae Johnson (6),  Te'Lario Watkins II (14), and Emma Biggs (16) as they share stories of why they came to gardening and how growing plants can change our world. Come with your questions! Our kid gardeners are eager to hear from their peers and share advice on how to get started in the garden
Learn more and register here.
ECE Workgroup
April 19, 2022 // 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. CST // Virtual 
Join us for our statewide Farm to Early Care and Education workgroup, open to all ECE providers, support organizations, farmers, and other interested folks. This month we will be dreaming and planning the upcoming year’s goals and sharing our ECE updates.
Email Hawthorn ( to be added to the email list.

Outdoor Learning Webinar Series 
Multiple Dates // Virtual
Introducing Outdoor Learning: a webinar series with appearances from the US Department of Education and in collaboration with a consortium of leading national organizations, including Big Green, Ecorise, Green Schoolyards America, Out Teach, and FreshFarm Foodprints.
April 27, 2022 // 3:00 p.m.: Teaching and Learning Outside hosted by Out Teach
May 11, 2022 // 3:00 p.m.: Creating Outdoor Spaces: The Infrastructure of Living Schoolyards hosted by Green Schoolyards America
May 25, 2022 // 3:00 p.m.: Equity in Outdoor Education & Environmental Justice hosted by EcoRise

Learn more and register here.
Growing School Food Gardens Webinar Series 
Multiple Dates // Virtual
This group is designed to facilitate networking and collaboration among school food garden practitioners locally, regionally, and nationally. Please join the Growing School Food Gardens community on the Kids Garden Community before joining this webinar.
May 10, 2022 // 3:00 p.m.: How to use school food gardens to teach place-based, culturally-relevant, and indigenous learning
June 14, 2022 // 3:00 p.m.: Funding your School Food Garden

Learn more and register here.
Teaching in Nature's Classroom Summer Session
May 16 - August 9, 2022 // Virtual 
This free course, developed as a companion to the book Teaching in Nature’s Classroom: Principles of Garden-Based Education, 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
Learn more and register here.
Funding Opportunities
Kids Garden Month Contest
Open: April 1 - 30, 2022 
Kids, we want to hear from you! Share how your garden takes care of you with a picture, video, song, dance, poem, art, craft, or anything else you can think of!
Weekly winners will be chosen and announced April 8, 15, 22, and 29. TWO grand prize winners, one individual or family, and one group or class will be chosen and announced May 20.
 Learn more and enter the contest.
Healthier Generation Award
Deadline: April 29, 2022 
Be honored for your effort in creating an environment that addresses the essential health needs of students, staff, and families by earning a Healthier Generation Award. All award winners will be recognized as  America's Healthiest Schools.
 Learn more here.

Teachers' Outdoor Environmental Education Fund from Natural Resources Foundation
Deadline: May 1, 2022 
Ensuring all Wisconsin students have access to meaningful outdoor education
The Teachers Outdoor Environmental Education Fund was established to provide meaningful outdoor environmental education learning experiences for public school students. Grants up to $1,000 are available
. Learn more here.
Year of Civic Learning Youth Grants
Deadline: May 2, 2022 
Are you a young person ready to lead a project that will make a positive difference in your community? Or are you a nonprofit organization or school interested in getting youth involved in planning a volunteer project?  Consider applying for a Year of Civic Learning Youth Grant. 10 grants of $2,000 each are available to support young people in developing and implementing projects that make a positive difference in their communities. 
Learn more here.
Deadline Extended for USDA Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program
Deadline: May 6, 2022 
The purpose of this program is to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency and the program will award up to $400 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments to support local, regional, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers through the purchase of domestic local foods.
 Learn more here.

Two Local Agriculture Market Program Opportunities from USDA
Deadline: May 16, 2022 
1. Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grants will develop food businesses which connect local food to institutions. Awards range from $100,000 to $500,000. Eligible applicants include agricultural businesses or cooperatives, CSA networks or associations, food councils, local governments, nonprofits, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities, and tribal governments. 
Learn more here.

2. Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) grants will facilitate partnerships between the public and private sector. Awards range from $500,000 to $1,000,000. Applicants must be partnerships between one eligible entity and one eligible partner. Learn more here.

Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program
Deadline: June 17, 2022 
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), requests applications from state governments for the Local Food for Schools (LFS) Program. The goal will be to establish cooperative agreements with state governments for the purpose of purchasing domestic, locally grown foods from local producers, small businesses, and socially disadvantaged farmers/producers for distribution to schools. AMS will make only one award per state government. The state governments can also partner with local organizations. Up to $200 million is available. 
Learn more here.
Job Opportunities
Dietician & WIC Assistants at SSCHC
Now accepting application
Sixteenth St. Community Health Center in Milwaukee is hiring for multiple positions, including a Registered Dietitian, and two WIC program roles. Learn more here.
Garden Educator Training Program
Applications are now being reviewed for full-season applicants. Review will start for summer-only applicants April 15, 2022. Applications will be reviewed until all spots have been filled.
Rooted's Madison-based Garden Education Trainees will work primarily at the Troy Kids' Garden and Goodman Youth Farm. Both programs serve children and youth ages 3-18 with outdoor, garden-based learning. At each site, trainees lead small groups of children in gardening, cooking, animal care, outdoor art, and other hands-on activities. Garden Education Trainees can expect to gain experience developing and implementing garden-based curricula and activities, while developing a working knowledge of vegetable gardening and small-scale farm management. Learn more here.
Northside Youth Employment Program Facilitator
Deadline: Application review will begin April 4, 2022 and continue until the position is filled
Rooted is seeking an enthusiastic person to facilitate an employment program for high school aged youth from June-August 2022. The facilitator will assist with creating and implementing a 10-week employment program that provides opportunities for youth to earn income working at Rooted farm and education sites. At the same time, the facilitator will guide youth through many different aspects of the food system, including agriculture, culinary arts, food justice, and community engagement. The facilitator will follow program participants' leads whenever possible to help them gain experience and develop skills around their interests while supporting them in completion of tasks at each site. Learn more here.
Direct Market Vegetable Educator
Deadline: April 20, 2022
The Direct Market Vegetable Educator is an exciting new position in the UW-Madison Division of Extension, designed to incorporate research findings into outreach to direct-market producers. This position is specifically focused on growers selling into the Milwaukee market. Learn more here.
Multiple Positions at Feeding America
Now accepting applications
Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is hiring for multiple positions, including a Philanthropy Manager, Volunteer Program Specialist, Grants Manager, and Director of Advocacy and Outreach. Learn more here.
FoodWIse Nutrition Educator (Multiple positions)
Deadline: May 4, 2022
FoodWIse currently has 3 positions available including 2 that are bilingual (HMoob/Hmong and Spanish). These positions are for people who enjoy teaching and working in the community. Previous nutrition education experience is not required – we will train you. We strongly encourage applications from candidates who foster and promote the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Nutrition Educator (Dane County)
Bilingual HMOOB (HMONG) Nutrition Educator (Dane County)
Bilingual SPANISH Nutrition Educator (Dane County)
News & Policy Updates

State Policy Map

NFSN Partners and state policy advocates are advancing state-level policies that are win for our kids by ensuring nourishing food is served in meals and snacks; a win for farmers by creating school market opportunities that provide reliable and consistent sales and fair pay; and a win for our communities by creating conditions for school food to be grown, distributed, prepared and consumed in ways that benefit everyone along the way. Interact with the map below to see what's happening in your state or territory during the current legislative session. Learn more.

Despite Lack of Funding for USDA School Meal Waivers Extension, Wins Present for Children, Farmers, and Communities in Congress’s Latest Spending Bill

Congress recently passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package. While the demand for nutritious, equitably procured school meals far exceeds the scope of funding provided, this bill nevertheless contains a handful of wins for farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) and much-needed funds for our farmers and communities. Read more.
Feature Story
Many months, the newsletter will have a feature story. Our feature stories will include Farm to School tales from around the state. Want to share your story with the Wisconsin Farm to School community? Email Rooted's Communications Director Renata Solan at
Have a question or feedback about the newsletter?
Email us at
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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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