Date: Jan 01, 2013
Magazine:
January 2013 - New Seed Variety Issue

Northern California may have been in the middle of a “river” of storms in December, but that didn’t stop two state agency representatives from getting out and seeing first-hand what state funds can accomplish.

Recently Grant Specialist Faye Ison of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Kelley Knapp, nutrition education consultant with the California Department of Education (CDE) accompanied Western Growers Foundation representatives on a tour of Oak Park Preschool in Sacramento, Calif.  CDE is a grant partner with the Foundation and Knapp is one of the specialists who help review grant applications and follow the success of the program.

The Western Growers Foundation donated $1,000 to the school as part of a GENE (Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education) grant funded by CDFA.  The school was one of 100 recipients selected to create and sustain an edible school garden.

Ison said she was grateful to visit the garden and see the results of a garden grant.  “It’s amazing to see the whole process from beginning to end.  The site visit allowed me to see firsthand, how the funds were used and how it brought the garden to fruition — and seeing the preschool children’s enthusiasm and knowledge of growing a garden at such a young age was an added surprise,” she said.

The visit included a tour of the garden, a producepedia.com quiz and a quick snack of carrots for the children.

“It’s exciting to see how gardens in preschools influence young children’s decision to try vegetables because they grew them,” said Knapp.

She explained that, “Young children are often reluctant to try new foods, especially vegetables; but they are more willing to eat the food they planted and harvested.  Preschool teachers enhance the experience through garden-based nutrition education activities.  The garden becomes an outdoor classroom where children learn about food and receive the added benefit of outdoor physical activity.”

Western Growers Foundation aims to put a school garden in every willing California and Arizona school.  For more information, including how you can donate, please visit www.westerngrowersfoundation.org.

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