Start Seeds/Save Seeds (S4) is a program that started in MARESA schools in 2015 to provide school garden support: transplants, seeds, and activities linked to Next Generation Science Standards.
In 2020, school looks different than usual due to COVID-19, but there is an increased interest in gardening -- so S4 has adapted! Students can take home veggie garden kits to plant, harvest, and eat at home with specially selected, simple recipes. Saving seeds from at least one type of plant in each kit is easy, and seeds can be kept for your garden next year, donated to a school garden program, or given to Queen City Seed Library. The program will continue to provide support for school gardens when school resumes.
Provides insight into a big question: where does food come from, and how does it grow?
Relates to academic subjects: science and biology, social studies, nutrition and health, history, mathematics, art -- and more!
Empowers students to become an informed part of the next generation of eaters (and farmers!)
COMPANION PLANTS Transplants and seeds are selected from open-pollinated varieties of popular fruits and veggies that suit our short growing season. Veggie Garden Kits include 3 transplants and seeds that are paired together as "companions" -- meaning that they support one another's growth in some way. Plants are open-pollinated varieties. Recipes, care instructions, seed saving tips, and access to instructional videos are included in each kit.
Basil Sings to Other Plants Some plants respond to the "vibes" that basil puts out by becoming more flavorful! This kit includes three transplants (cherry tomato, basil, marigold) and carrot seeds.
Calendula Attracts Pollinators Calendula is a flower that enhances the pollination of the plants growing near it by enticing insects that pollinate other crops in the garden. This kit includes three transplants (cucumber, lettuce, dill) and calendula seeds.
Marigold Protects from Predators Marigolds have a strong presence in the garden -- so much so that some insects and animals will avoid them. This kit includes three transplants (kale, cilantro, butternut squash) and marigold seeds.
VIDEOS AND RESOURCES Check out free cooking and garden videos as the season progresses and at partner social media pages, which will be posted with the hashtag #startseedssaveseeds.
PICKUP LOCATIONS Choose to pick up transplants at one of three U.P. locations: Marquette, Ishpeming, and Gwinn the week of June 8 -- indicate your pickup location and date when you fill out the form below. Social distancing will be observed at each pickup site.
Sign up for a Veggie Garden Kit
Interested in gardening this year with your family? Fill out the form below to select one kit and a pickup location. The deadline for requests for Veggie Garden Kits is Friday, June 5, 2020.Questions? Contact Abbey.
Saving seeds for planting next year is part of the origins of agriculture, and today it is carried out mostly by seed companies. But more gardeners and farmers are saving their own. Seed saving is a part of the food system that is almost invisible, as seeds are often not mature until after a plant is harvested for food. There is a growing interest in understanding food comes from and how it is produced, and area schools are incorporating gardens into their classroom activities. For school gardens, seed saving shows young learners the entire food system, rather than just the part that lands on the plate.
In response to an increased number of school gardens in the Upper Peninsula, and teachers looking for activities and support for those gardens, a group of central UP organizations that support agricultural education came together in 2013 to form the first activities that would become Start Seeds/Save Seeds. This program provides transplants, seeds, and classroom activities that give teachers access to the tools and expertise needed to try something new in the garden at their school. After saving seeds for a growing season, students are invited to trade seeds and stories at the community-wide Queen City Seed Library Seed Swap. Participating classrooms are also invited to visit MSU U.P. Research and Extension Center in Chatham for a farm field trip.
"Several schools in the U.P. have started hoophouses and gardens in the past five years," says Abbey Palmer, Education Coordinator at The North Farm, a farm incubator and education center located in Chatham at the Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center. "Using those gardens for seed saving lets us study basic plant genetics, the history of our most common food plants, and start a conversation about the food system." The program has been providing assistance and experiential learning opportunities around farming to area schools through field trips to local farms and hands-on lessons offered at their school garden by community partners. "At Graveraet, kids are learning how to grow food, which is an empowering skill set," says Miriah Redmond, co-founder of MQT Growth, a non-profit that maintains the Graveraet hoop house in the summer. Mike Riesterer of the Transition Marquette says, "Seed saving is practical, but not often practiced. When kids participate in the process from growing and eating the plant, then start next year's plant with seeds they saved, they understand the entire cycle in a way that few people do. They start to look at food differently—and they're more likely to eat a vegetable that they grew themselves."