CONCORD, Mass., April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Fruit and vegetable gardens are sprouting up in schools across the country thanks to a unique Harvest Grants program from Welch's and Scholastic Parent & Child® magazine with the assistance of the National Gardening Association. The Welch's Harvest Grants program has awarded 100 schools across the country garden packages filled with tools, seeds, and educational materials. Planting, tending and eventually harvesting their own fruits and vegetables will give school children a unique hands-on opportunity to learn about where their food comes from, and even motivate them to eat more nutritious fruits and vegetables.
As part of the program, Welch's family-farmer owners are visiting some of the winning schools and offering their expert advice to help kids discover the rewards of planting and caring for their own garden either indoors or out. At one of the winning schools, Whitefoord Elementary School in Atlanta, the digging, raking and sowing got underway with the guidance of Welch's family-farmer, Jamie Militello and bestselling author and Food Network star Alton Brown.
"I'm really excited to see these school gardens being planted thanks to our Harvest Grants, and I'm delighted to be able to help these children learn a little more about where their food comes from and how it is grown," said Jamie Militello of Forestville, New York. "My kids love helping me on my farm and like them, I hope these students will enjoy eating the fruits of their labor!"
"If we really want our kids to enjoy long, healthy lives they've got to develop good eating habits and that means teaching them to really rely on and appreciate fruits and vegetables from an early age," said Alton Brown. "By giving them the opportunity to actually raise their own crops in school, we can help them not only to cultivate those habits but to fully experience the science and art of food itself."
Each Welch's Harvest Grants kit includes educational materials designed to help students in all areas of learning. They include posters and guided activities that teachers can use in the classroom and in conjunction with the hands-on gardening activities.
More than 5,500 Harvest Grant applications were received and judged by the National Gardening Association. Grants have been awarded to schools across the country, giving school children access to the lessons learned by generations of Welch's family farmers and the experts of the National Gardening Association.
"No activity holds more value to young people than the gardening experience," says Mike Metallo, President of National Gardening and KidsGardening.Org. "The Welch's Harvest Grants will help engage school children in gardening activities throughout the growing season providing motivation to eat more nutritious fruits and vegetables."
"The response to the Harvest Grants program has been incredible. The fact that we received more than 5,500 submissions confirms our belief in the irreplaceable value of the hands-on learning experience," explained Risa Crandall, VP and Publisher, Scholastic Parent & Child. "Our readers were excited by the opportunity for students to take an active role in producing their own food to help encourage healthy eating habits."
Seven schools were selected to receive $1,000 packages, 24 schools have been selected to receive $500 packages, and 69 schools have been selected to receive $250 packages. A full list of winning schools, as well as further information about Harvest Grants, can be found at www.scholastic.com/harvest.
Headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts, Welch's is the processing and marketing subsidiary of the National Grape Cooperative. Welch's is owned by nearly 1,200 family-farmers across America and in Ontario, Canada, who make up this cooperative, and who are responsible for growing the Concord and Niagara grapes which are pressed to produce Welch's juices and other grape-based products. As a family-farmer owned company, sustainable agriculture and the importance of healthy eating are central to Welch's mission.
At the heart of Welch's is the delicious and inherently healthy Concord grape, and the family-farmer owners who grow it. Welch's Concord grapes are pressed, including the skin and seeds, within 8 hours of being harvested to capture the grapes' natural antioxidant power, and to ensure a premium quality product. Welch's 100% Grape Juice made from Concord grapes helps promote a healthy heart and arteries and maintain a healthy immune system. Welch's is committed to research and development which will meet the growing demand for products that address consumers' health and nutrition needs. Welch's products are sold throughout the United States and in approximately 50 countries around the globe. For more information, visit http://www.welchs.com.
About the National Gardening Association
The National Gardening Association (South Burlington, VT) promotes gardening as a means to renew and sustain the essential connection between people, plants, and the environment. For 36 years, NGA has been a leader in plant-based education and garden-industry research. Our programs are valued and praised by educators and communities across America, making us a strong partner. We offer the Web's largest and most respected library of online gardening resources. Though our strength is in youth gardening, our resources support gardeners of every age and ability. NGA acts as an interactive hub and provides a critical service to educators, supplying them with curricula, publications, grants, awards, and professional development tools at www.kidsgardening.org and www.garden.org.