NH Ag in the Classroom's Newsletter



In This Issue
Celebrate Ag Week
Starting Seedlings in the Classroom
Quick Links to Lessons

A Garden Plot: The Tale of

Peter Rabbit
Encourages students to think about where their food is grown, observe roots and soil, and write about experiences while caring for the gardens they create.

A Priceless Collection (6-8)
Students will research and locate seed banks around the world while experimenting with viable methods of storing seeds.
A Worm's World(2-4)
Students will learn about living and nonliving organisms while observing the changes in a terrarium.

Balloon Plants (3-6)
An activity which focuses on what plants need to grow: soil, sunlight, carbon dioxide and water.

Buzzing a Hive (K-3)
Explores the complex social behavior, communication, and hive environment of the honeybee through activities that mix art, literature, role-play, and drama.

Earthworm Empire: The       Living Soil
This book is a link for bridging agriculture to natural resources, earth science, soils, history, language, art, and mathematics.

Dig In: Hands-On Soil Investigations (3-5)
Students will be up to their elbows in the study of soil formation, habitats and land- use, animals that depend on soil, plants that grow in soil, soil science, and soil conservation.

Farming in Space (6-9)
The Farming in Space activity has been designed to demonstrate a plant growth flight experiment.

Learning About Ecology, Animals, and Plants (LEAP) (PreK-2)
LEAP is a life science curriculum that covers living things, including seeds, animals, plants, people, and their life cycles.
Literature in the Garden (3-5)
A Junior Master Gardener curriculum. This instructional unit explores gardening through garden- and ecology-themed children's books.
Math in the Garden (K-8)
Math in the Garden uses the enticing realm of gardens to inspire youth as they apply important math skills.

My Little Seed House (1-2)
A simple lesson plan and activity about seed germination.

Nature's Partners: Pollinators, Plants and You (3-6)
A comprehensive unit on pollination.
beeThe Bees' Buzz
About Honey

 Honey is the only food consumed by humans that is produced by insects.


Honey is the sweet, viscous fluid produced by honey bees from the nectar of flowers. Worker honey bees transform the floral nectar that they gather into honey by adding enzymes to the nectar and reducing the moisture. The honey is stored in the wax cells of the hive (honeycomb).


Honey is a rich source of carbohydrates - mainly fructose (about 38.2 percent) and glucose (31.0 percent). The remaining carbohydrates include maltose, sucrose and other complex carbohydrates.  beedivider

On average, honey is about 17.1 percent water.  


Honey is sweeter than table sugar.


Honey contains small amounts of a wide array of vitamins, minerals and amino acids as well as several compounds which function as antioxidants - compounds that delay damage to cells or tissues in our bodies.


Throughout history, honey has been enjoyed for its sweetness as well as its healing properties.


Honey is an entirely natural product. It contains neither additives nor preservatives. The color and flavor of honeys differ, depending on the nectar source (the blossoms) visited by the honey bees.


The color ranges from nearly colorless to dark brown, and the flavor varies from mild to bold. As a general rule, lighter-colored honeys are milder, and darker-colored honeys are bolder.



Every Child in the Garden: A Gathering about
Gardening and Youth


Saturday, March 5, 2011

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM


Massabesic Audubon Center

26 Audubon Way,
 Auburn, NH

Space is limited. Cost will be $10.00 per person, including lunch. Please register by March 1 and make checks payable to UNH Cooperative Extension.

For more information:

For registration information contact Janell George at 



For questions contact:

Julia Steed Mawson, Extension 4-H Educator at 




Winter Conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association
- NH Chapter 

Saturday, March 19, 2011
 Exeter High School


The conference has workshops for beginning & veteran farmers as well as some specifically targeted for teachers.  Visit the NOFA-NH website for more details. 




     It has always been others in the family who have had "green thumbs" (along with musical ability) yet I have always admired and appreciated their flowers, gardens and loved music. Being told I could not carry a tune has not stopped me from singing, nor gotten me kicked out of church choir. Neither did I cease trying to learn how to get green things to stay alive, including adopting "orphan" plants My Bronx born Dad worked hard in our NH family vegetable garden nurturing 4 kids along with the radishes and carrots. I will always vividly remember the little Maple tree he set beside the house with such love, how it thrived as we kids grew. I am sure it would still be there except that it disappeared with our house when the Keene VoTech center was built on that lot.

     My passion was animals, but Papa, my grandfather who was just as passionate about flowers, taught me patiently how to set little pansies and petunias either in Nana's window boxes or our front yard. I can picture how thrilled he was when his dahlias bloomed. He had apparently seen many failures.

     In the late 70's and early 80's, in Harrrisville, my animals made the fertilizer but they would not respect the fences, so 2 neighbor pals with very green hands traded for all the produce I could use, and I contented myself with keeping a giant white geranium in the mudroom.

     One of these garden gurus tells me that she does not start much indoors on February new moon except some lettuces, for which she has elaborate cold frames in late March, when she also starts the heat loving plants on that new moon. Cool and cold plants are started directly in pods. If there is a heated greenhouse things can be started much later and we will have much about that in our March newsletter.

     Thus February finds us ordering seeds and making plans for projects closer to April. Will you begin inside? Do you have a veggie patch at school for planting? Will you want to build cold frames or pods?

     Meanwhile, she suggests sprouting sunflowers in trays. A small amount (3/4 inch) of sterile potting soil is put over newspaper on a cafeteria tray and wet down. Regular sunflowers in the shells are pushed lightly into the soil after it is moistened, water lightly. The first couple of days it can be covered lightly with plastic wrap to keep it damp. Keep in a bright or sunny place and in about 10 to 14 days there are sprouts that you can cut with scissors. Pull off any shells stuck to the sprout and they are peppery fresh and yummy. Alfalfa, whole lentils, mung beans and other grains are also great for sprouting. Put cup in pint bell jars with plastic fine screening, or a strainer cloth held by the jar ring. Soak over one night then just rinse them thoroughly 2 times a day. Leave the jars on their sides in a sunny place. Voila'! In 10 to 14 days, some munchies for salads or in stir fries. I sprout a mix of bread grains - wheat, oats, etc -- for about 5 days to make a rich whole grain bread.

     Bulbs forced in pots are a wonderful source of cheer for me and will brighten any classroom. I have graduated to keeping green things going in several rooms, uplifted like Papa whenever blossoms pop out, and excited when the teeny tomato embryos stick up, reaching for the sun in the dining room window. The symbolism of tiny seeds becoming large bushes and trees, as in the parable of the mustard seed, has helped build faith, hope, optimism, responsibility, dependability in every generation of time. In literature, both prose and poetry abound with examples of and allusions to sowing and reaping, with real scenes and their parallels in all of our life cycles.

     There is something truly satisfying for all ages about getting hands into rich dirt, inserting minute, seemingly lifeless specks of mattter, and watching them rise to life, beauty and usefulness. Likewise, I find regular encouragement in my small clumps of shamrocks as they at least twice a year, dry up and almost die only to reappear and touch me with their delicate white starry blossoms. It is amazing to the rest of the family that I have kept this dear gift from my mother-in-law through several moves and home for nearly ten years. 

     We look forward to seeing many of you this weekend 4&5 Feb. at the NH Farm and Forest Expo in Manchester. Come play FARMO and tell us how we can help you. We already have some volunteers signed up to read "In The Trees, Honey Bees" which will be donated to each school library where they have been presented during Ag Week and the 2nd half of March. If you have not made a date yet for a reading, please contact us, or suggest a possible reader to do so. We have nearly 3 times as many books as last year, so we are ready to read.

     We always welcome your suggestions and comments. Please let us know how we can help you liven up your classes in any subject with Agriculture in the Classroom. We are looking to plan a few more school to farm events this spring and fall. We are eager to hear from interested schools and groups.  


Jozi Best,


Celebrate National Agriculture Week

     NH AITC plans to participate in National Agriculture Week again this year by having volunteers across the state go to their local schools and read an agriculturally accurate book about honey bees and why we should like them as opposed to being frightened by them.  

      In the Trees, Honey Bees by Lori Mortensen is the book we have chosen for this year. The book is recommended for ages 4-10 but really would be appropriate for older students also. This is truly a honey of a book!  "There is excellent educational synergy between its prose and poetry.  In combination with superb illustrations, this book stands out among the crowd of children's books on this subject." ---Gary Dunn, Director of Education, Young Entomologists' Society.

       The cover of this book says," Peek inside this tree and see a wild colony of honey bees. It hums with life. Look at the thousands of worker bees-each one doing her job. Some are feeding the hungry brood. Some are storing sweet honey.  Look at all the combs, filled with honey and pollen! It's all very organized, like a smoothly running town. A honey bee colony is a remarkable place, and you will never look at bees in the same way again."

      In collaboration with NH Farm Bureau members, NHFB Associated Women, Young Farmers and Ag in the Classroom volunteers we hope to get into as many schools as possible to read this book and then donate it to the school's library.  We have purchased 200 books and are looking for your help in identifying schools that would like to have someone come to their school and share with their students.  We are also looking for folks to offer to go to the school to read for the students.  You don't necessarily have to know all about bees.  The book will speak for itself. 

      NH Agriculture in the Classroom will provide the book and lesson plans to go along with it to be left with the school.  We will also provide a list of NH Beekeepers so that the school will be able to further their educational programs with a field trip or having a NH  Beekeeper come to their school. The NH Beekeepers website is www.NHBeekeepers.org.


      If you would be interested in helping to read to a class in your area or just want to suggest a school to us please feel free to contact the NH Agriculture in the Classroom office at 603-224-19

34 at the NH Farm Bureau in Concord, NH.  We can also be reached via email.

Starting Seedlings in the Classroom


     It's hard to think about spring when we continue to get blasted with snow storms.  However, it is the time to start planning for gardens and planting time.  Growing plants in the classroom can provide a wonderful opportunity for endless lessons.  Many of the science process skills and life science curriculum frameworks can be addressed using plants as a theme.  Besides, watching plants grow is fun and magical.

     If you decide to grow plants in your class, make a plan for what you will do with them.  Do you want to grow some early lettuces and greens that your students can eat before the end of school?  Is a school garden in your future where the seedlings can be transplanted and nurtured through the summer? (See the sidebar about our school garden workshop.)   Will you grow flower seedlings for the students to take them home as gifts for their families?  The outcome may be different but the basic process is the same. 

    Seeds need soil, water and light to grow.  The trickiest ingredient is actually the light.  Many school seedling projects (and ones at home too) have ended as spindly unhealthy plants that didn't get the strong start they needed to be really successful.  The way to avoid that is to provide consistent light from above rather than relying on limited sunlight that filters onto school windowsills.

     Light tables can be purchased at garden center stores or through the Internet, but they can be quite pricey.  A simple and cheaper alternative is to build your own.  The key elements are a platform or table for the plants, overhead lights that can be raised and lowered and a timer to maintain 12-15 hours of light each day.  The diagram provided shows a basic design that works well (dimensions provided for scale, not for exact construction).  The shop lights can be plugged into a timer to maintain the desired length of light.  Start them low as soon as the seeds have sprouted and keep them several inches above the plants, raising them as the seedlings grow.

    When planting the seeds, put them in moist potting soil and spray them regularly to keep them moist.  But be sure not to soak them, they should not be in standing water.  The seeds can be started in any container that is at least 2" deep and has drainage holes.  As the plants grow you may want to transplant them into larger containers, depending on what they were started in.  Utilizing milk cartons from the cafeteria is a fun way to incorporate reuse and waste reduction into your lessons.  Remember that the plants will grow so build enough light table space to accommodate the larger plants, not just the tiny sprouts.

    It's always best to plant more seeds than you think will grow because they do not always germinate.  This can be disappointing for students, or you can turn it into a probability lesson.  Students will love the anticipation of sprouting and then be spellbound by the growth process.  This is a great opportunity to practice measuring skills, predictions or try some experiments to see what might impact the growth rate.  The possibilities are endless. 

     If you are interested in starting some plants in your class and still feel you need some assistance, don't hesitate to call me.  I'm more than happy to help get things growing.  

                                                              by Ruth Smith, NHAITC Coordinator