About Us

The Troy Howard Middle School Garden Project encompasses an outdoor learning experience by providing a school-wide garden and greenhouse project in which all children in RSU 20 can participate and excel.

The Purpose and Mission
The purpose of the Garden Project is to grow empowered-academically successful young people who integrate sustainability into their lives by producing and learning to satisfy their needs locally.

Our mission is to create a district wide agricultural project that promotes healthy living through practical applications. At the Troy Howard Middle School we strive to integrate the school and its land with the community.

Our goal is to engage all students in a journey of discovery through gardening projects that achieve Maine science, math, language arts, economics, and social studies learning results. At the heart of the gardening program are the young people excited by making a real difference in their school and community.

School-Student Impact

The program provides RSU 20 educators a framework and activities that integrate gardening, the apple orchard and watershed within the curriculum.

This is being achieved through teacher developed workshops, school-community partnerships and in-class teaching that facilitates inquiry-based student projects:
Producing compost,
organic food,
seeds and seedlings,
low cost technologies,
student-run businesses, and community apprenticeships.

A variety of herbs, vegetables, and flowers are grown from seeds. Several thousand pounds of organic produce is harvested annually and used in the school food services, sold to RSU 20 families and the community through a school based farmers market at the middle school, sold whole sale to the local Coop. Food is also shared in abundance with students.

The Garden Project affords the students the opportunity to work collaboratively, solve problems as a team, and foster a strong sense of self-confidence while gaining an appreciation for the value of agriculture. Concepts such as where our food comes from, how to grow, harvest and prepare vegetables and fruits and the key to healthy soils and choices are developed.

Highlights include: bean-hole dinners, the pizza project, making and selling spaghetti sauce and salsa, pesto, potato/ squash soup, hosting a spaghetti dinner, healthy greens initiative, .

Community Service

Some of the food produced is donated to local soup kitchens and food pantries thereby teaching community responsibility and social awareness.

Each Friday during the season, students deliver baskets of produce to the local soup kitchen and food pantry.


The Garden Project is recognized in the community as a learning center, a source of food and community service opportunity for students. In 2003, THMS was awarded Making the Grade Award, from the Maine State Board of Education.

Head Start and other pre-school children, as well as school groups and organizations from other parts of Maine have visited the program.

The Belfast Garden Club, Cornell University, Maine Department of Agriculture, Maine Department Of Education, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, School Garden Network, Morris Farms, Western Maine Alliance, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom and the Maine State Grange are among the organizations that have visited and supported the Project.

How it Happens

Start up funds and supplies for the Troy Howard Middle School Garden project came from grants, local donations and MSAD 34 financial and human resources. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension, USDA, Cornell, and local experts have provided technical assistance. Our community friends have been the key to making this project grow.

The Garden Project have been recognized by the U.S.D.A. and the Board of Education for excellence in teaching and education. Teachers in the Project have received numerous State and National Awards honoring their curriculum work and service learning efforts. In the past four years, students have won over 70 ribbons at MOFGA’s. Common Ground Fair.

Jon Thurston

c/o The Garden Project
25 Lincolnville Avenue
Belfast, ME 04915
207-338-3320 ext 140

Specific Contributors:
Maine Department of Agriculture Maine Initiatives-Harvest Fund
Moss Incorporated
National Gardening Association
Maine Cooperative Extension

Belfast Rotary

4 Responses to “About Us”

  1. Sunday Harrison Says:

    So excited to find your site though my google alerts “school+garden”. I’d love to link my recently developed site to yours, and have a good exchange of ideas. Toronto is similar climate, maybe even a tad warmer than where you are. We have access to a City greenhouse starting in March, but I am totally inspired by your year-round growing. And the curriculum connections are awesome. That is where we need to go. But so far, my efforts at school-based gardening are coming from the community and we are only just beginning to get buy-in from the school system. And they want to use it to teach literacy, as that’s where the system is failing children. We have a lot of ESL students and low-income, urban kids who have never seen worms before. Believe me, the garden is one of the highlights of their school life.

  2. Herb Williams Says:

    I am with Organization for Transformative Farming. We are in the process of taking down 2 greenhouses, 20×24, 30×60. Do you know of a school or other non-profit or CSA who would like to buy one? We are applying for grants also to cover the cost, but have not received anything yet. The cost includes a lot of extras and is very minimal.

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