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Grants aid edible school gardens

garden grant1W

Yolo Farm to Fork garden grant recipients take spring vegetable plant starters — 30 flats of arugula, spinach, Swiss chard, lettuces, cauliflower and broccoli — grown by Jim Schulte and his greenhouse crew at Woodland Community College’s horticulture program. Courtesy photo

Yolo Farm to Fork has awarded $25,000 to schools in Davis, West Sacramento and Woodland to help them build and sustain edible school gardens.

The awards follow a competitive application process open to all Yolo County schools with the highest priority given to schools in which 50 percent or more of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Yolo Farm to Fork awarded 10 “Taste Our Garden” grants and six “Futures” grants.

The schools that received “Taste Our Garden” grants got $1,000, seeds, plant starts, organic mulch, weed control bark, training and technical assistance in planting, growing and tasting, as well as recipes and help coordinating garden activities, classroom integrations, and “Taste Our Garden” events in May.

Davis recipients were Patwin and Willett elementary schools and Harper Junior High School. Dingle, Freeman and Zamora elementary schools in Woodland also received “Taste Our Garden” grants, as did River City High School, Westmore Oaks Elementary School, Holy Cross Academy and Yolo Education Center/Evergreen in West Sacramento.

Sponsored by Sutter Davis Hospital, the “Taste Our Garden” funding will go toward building edible gardens on these campuses, educating students about nutrition and combating obesity.

Recipients of the “Futures” grants received $2,500 each. Sponsored by Orchard Hill Family Fund, the Futures grants provide for a garden coordinator stipend, seeds and seedlings, organic mulch, weed control bark and other supplies, coaching to help connect garden learning experiences to classroom instruction, training and technical assistance in planting and growing, and recipes and help coordinating “Futures” tasting events in September.

The “Futures” grant funding recipients included Montgomery Elementary School in Davis; Southport Elementary School in West Sacramento; and Plainfield, Beamer Park, Dingle and Zamora elementary schools in Woodland.

All of the “Futures” grant recipients already have gardens but needed more supplies and assistance to achieve their goals. Montgomery will expand its new herb garden and revitalize an existing pollination garden, both of which will contain edible herbs and flowers.

With funding from the Futures grant, teachers will focus on supplies and tools to increase their ability to grow more vegetables, do more cooking projects with the kids, teach about nutrition, and support curriculum extensions and links in classroom academics such as math and science.

Judy Leatherman, Montgomery’s gardening coordinator, said, “Parents often come up to a teacher, amazed that their child tried a certain vegetable and want to know how they got the kids into tasting so many new foods. We know it’s all about having a gardening program which involves the children in the miracle of planting seeds, working in the garden in the fresh air, and watching plants grow into delicious snacks and nutritious recipes which we all share.”

Garden grant recipients attended an orientation last week to receive their checks, planting supplies and information, in addition to program curriculum assistance and resources on how to ensure long-term success in gardening. They were welcomed at the meeting and presented with their checks by grant garden coordinator Kymberleigh Smith; Yolo Farm to Fork’s vice president, Suzanne Falzone; and Yolo Farm to Fork’s executive director, Beth Harrison.

Helping to make the grants possible were Jim Schulte’s greenhouse crew and Woodland Community College’s horticulture program, which provided 30 flats of spring vegetable starter plants such as arugula, spinach, Swiss chard, lettuces, cauliflower, and broccoli to the award recipients.

Yolo Farm to Fork is a nonprofit agency dedicated to bringing locally grown, farm-fresh food to school lunches, establishing recycling programs, supporting school and community gardens and helping Yolo County residents get to know where their food comes from and the farmers who grow it. For more information about donating funds or time to any of these garden projects, email [email protected] or visit www.yolofarmtofork.org.

Special to The Enterprise

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