Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

dig.jpgThe warm weather allowed us to get out of the greenhouse and into the garden!  Our first order of business was soil improvement.  The kids have been spreading compost and leaf mulch throughout areas which are in need of organic matter.  A new heirloom tomato garden was made in the courtyard outside of the library.  We cut sod in two half circles around the library garden so visitors can walk through and view these old timers in action.  This allowed the kids to see very raw THMS soil which is not a pretty sight.  They will be involved step by step in the soil improvement process which I hope will make an impression.

Mr. Thurston

Searsport Headstart Seasoned Gardeners

kidloom.jpgSearsport Headstart are good friends of the Garden and always have lots of energy to share. Today the children met with Franklin the Turtle, completed a scavenger hunt then planted beans and milkweed, weaved in the Earth Loom and climbed the mulch tower. The best part was eating spinach and wearing flowers behind our ears.


Winterport Headstart starts Worm Farm

headstart.jpgThe Headstarters from Winterport spent more than two hours participating in student run activities in the Garden Project today. A scavenger hunt was set up by garden team members to intrduce the visitors to the greenhouse and a planting activity. The children planted beans and milkweed (for the monarch butterfles), named our turtle “Franklin”, worked a bit in the garden, fed the rabbits and sorted red wiggler worms for their own Classroom Worm Farm. Lunch was eaten out on the picnic table before taking this picture and picking flowers for their hair. Thanks to all of the garden team students who gave their lunch period to help!

The CASS is Digging Their Way to Knowledge

Mrs. Krueger’s fifth grade science students learn some of the intricacies of Greenhouse life with Hannah. Here they are asking about the potato tower and the three foot lettuce plant that looks like a big thistle stalk.


7th grade members of the garden project give a talk about soil science and vermicomposting. The garden students are really generous with their knowledge and time.


P.E. in the garden? Students line up with rakes, shovels and pitch forks for a hand tilling race the width of the garden.


The first one to finish tilling their row wins a treat from the garden. Not only a great way to get some quality exercise but it’s also a bit safer for the worms. Mr. T.

Our Friends From Drinkwater

p2090023.jpgWell they came ready to seed and do some snow shoeing and it’s only April 11th. Our friends from Drinkwater School were back today planting seeds with the 7th grade students getting ready for their own school garden. We hope to have them back soon to get them started with a worm bin and lesson on making good compost.

Mr. T.p2090020.jpg

Twenty Two Feet and Growing

Garden students measure one of our greenhouse sungold tomato plants at 22 feet and still growing. Next they will weight the plant. Any guesses?

The Week of Snow

Even though we got over a foot of snow this last week, there are still plenty of things to do in the world of the THMS garden.  More seedlings can be started and harvesting greens can be done.

The question is most often asked is…. where can we put all of our seedlings?  With the help of teachers with large, sunny classroom windows we are able to start our seedlings inside the school and are not limited to the greenhouses.

Harvesting greens is tough when the weather is cooler and cloudy but our production is still strong and the greens are still delicious.

The once thawing soil is now back to being frozen and Earth Day is only 2 weeks away. The question on all of our minds is if we will be able to get the vegetables in the ground by that day. We’ll keep you updated during the upcoming weeks.

Hannah Brzycki– Unity College

87 Tomatoes Looking for a Good Home

tomatoes.jpgIt is April 9 and snow and cold still prevail over the garden. The April sun has transformed the four season greenhouses despite the cold. Spinach, lettuce, arugula, mustard and mizuna are starting to be cut and sold. We are really hoping to start using the great outdoors for hardening off seedlings for early spring plantings. Approximately 87 varieties of tomatoes await in Ms. Davis’ science room windows ready for transplanting !

Jon Thurston

Garden Pets

Garden PetTroy Howard Middle School students are displaying the Garden Pets they created in Mrs. Sproch’s seventh grade art class. These are hand built and painted ceramic sculptures preserved with Acrylic and polyuretnane. Seventh grade students donated their precious pieces to help continue funding of their award winning Garden Project. The students have put lots of extra time and energy into the Garden Project to make it financially self-sufficient to help with SAD 34 budget challenges.

Garden Artists

These garden pets are being sold at the THMS indoor farm stand. Come directly to the school for purchase or call 338-3320 #124





Brooklyn C., Brandon H., Kristen M. modeling a few of the garden pets

Student Intern from Unity College: Hannah Brzycki

A travel through time…I am a Junior at Unity College majoring in Landscape Horticulture and interning at the Troy Howard Middle School (THMS). The first day I walked into the classroom I stepped back 10 years to when I was in my middle school in Virginia. How I wish I could have had the experiences that these students are having here in Belfast Maine. The willingness that they have to work with the vegetables and greens all year long is a thrill to experience. When I leave THMS to head back for my classes at Unity, I am filled with energy that was transferred to me from my day at the middle school. Their enthusiasm is contagious.

During this semester I have been helping Jon Thurston in the Green house and Steve Tanguay in the classroom. I have been mentoring students and helping them design final projects. I have observed that by mixing the “normal” classes such as English, social studies, math, and science with a real world experience like designing and managing a hoop house with no artificial heat through a Maine winter.

In my opinion, this approach to learning helps the students to remember the subjects they are taught. The 7th Grade north class uses hands-on-learning to make each lesson concrete and enduring. I am delighted to take part in such an extraordinary and effective approach to learning.

Heirloom Seeds & Class Visits

The students have started over 70 varieties of tomatoes, both heirloom and hybrid, for seed saving and cooking during the next fall season. The Garden Project works to supports Seed Savers Exchange and Medomak Valley High School in their efforts to locate and save open pollinated seed to help preserve our history and protect biodiversity. We are particularly interested in plants that have been grown locally over many generations and welcome any leads that may help us in preserving seeds grown locally.


Class visits to the greenhouse have started up again which is a good sign of spring.  This week, the fifth graders from Mrs. Cox’s science class at the Drinkwater School came to work with some of the Seventh grade soil experts yesterday.

The lesson was learning all about soils and what’s most important in keeping your soils healthy. Students studied soils and worm castings under the dissecting microscopes in the greenhouse.

drinkwater.jpg The students took a worm castings experiment back to their classroom where they will compare the growth of the sunflower seeds they planted both with and without the addition of worm castings (20 percent).

The seventh grade students really enjoyed working with their younger peers and are already planning for their next visit.

-Mr. T & T

New Garden Projects and Traveling to Unity

Jon, Linda and I (Steve, the classroom teacher) presented at the 2nd Annual Local & Sustainable Foods Conference at the Unity Performing Arts Center this past weekend, our second outing in five days. The conference had dozens of sessions on everything from homesteading healthier food in schools and buying locally to keep your dollars in your community and the importance of preserving biodiversity with the Rodale Institute.

We had a great crowd for our talk in the Arts Center and were pleased to hear about how many schools and programs our own project has touched. Of course, the most fun is talking about our students and all the wonderful things they have accomplished. The reactions we get to the knowledge base our middle schoolers are building is quite remarkable. You tend to forget how special the kids work is when you are all so engaged in what you are doing.

“Mainer’s import 80% of their daily calories, much of it coming from industrial farms in China, California, and Mexico. Keeping food local gives us greater say in what we eat and how our food is produced, and it improves our food security”, says Bob St. Peter, Forest Farm.

We’d add that it gives us more economic freedom and better control of our health. It sure doesn’t hurt to cut down on those medical bills 🙂

Great beginner advice here for growing from seed .

Mr. T.