Date: Feb 18, 2010

IRVINE (February 18, 2010) - In the spirit of maintaining outdoor classrooms and continuing the fight against childhood obesity with access to nutrition education, Western Growers Foundation (WGF) sent out $13,500 in school garden grants, educator resources and drip irrigation kits to nine California schools this week.

Bi-annually WGF awards $1,500 and other resources to California schools that submit applications. For this first round of funding in 2010, WGF selected schools that already have a garden, helping to sustain these outdoor learning centers for years to come.

“We have seen that approximately 90 percent of the gardens we’ve started through the years have been able to sustain themselves,” said WGF Administrator Briana Lewis. With severe budget cuts in education across the state, we decided it would be prudent to strengthen garden programs already in place.”

The Foundation awarded grants to:
Billy Mitchell Elementary, Lawndale
County Community Schools, Ukiah
Hooker Oak School, Chico Louisiana Schnell Elementary, Placerville
San Juan School, San Juan Bautista
Sherman Elementary School, San Francisco
Toyon Middle School, Valley Springs
Tustin Memorial Academy, Santa Ana
William Brooks Elementary, El Dorado Hills

WGF funds garden enhanced nutrition education programs to reconnect students to where their food comes from, to encourage and increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables, and to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. Current research provides strong evidence that garden-enhanced education increases academic achievement, improves test scores, and increases children’s consumption of and preference for fruits and vegetables. These gardens become outdoor classrooms where teachers enrich the curriculum in more than a dozen subjects with hands-on, real world learning.

Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship about half of the nation’s fresh produce.

Western Growers members created WGF to give back to the residents of California and Arizona who have helped to make them so successful over the more than 80 years. WGF was developed to address timely issues facing these valued customers.

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