What could be a more evocative image for our future than a child's palm full of seeds? A shipment of seeds from The Natural Gardening Company in Petaluma, CA arrived at The FruitGuys last week prompting a good deal of spring fever and joy as we sorted the seeds into little envelopes bound for the elementary students we serve. The FruitGuys supplies fresh fruit and veggie snacks to schools nationwide for the U.S. Department of Agriculture-sponsored Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and the seed envelopes carry our message of "Welcome Spring."
Each packet contains two easy-to-grow veggies. The seeds can be germinated in the classroom in keeping with the science curriculum, or can be grown in school gardens. We included a colorful assortment of radishes named, appropriately, Easter Egg, Breakfast, and Cherry Belle. Radishes are quick to grow—it only takes about 24 days until kids can pull, wash, and eat them. Heirloom Laxton Progress shelling peas were also included to give children the experience of eating fresh peas off the vine, not canned or frozen.
The mission of The FruitGuys School Program is to provide fresh, healthy foods as well as to expand children's palates with a variety of local produce. “When students are served the fruit and veggies at snack time they also receive a FruitGuys educational component encouraging children to eat healthier snacks and covering health topics," said Carol Stewart, FruitGuys’ School Program Coordinator.
Grants for the USDA program are available to elementary schools where 50% or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. If you are a school administrator, or think your child’s school could be eligible for the FFVP, in California contact the CDE or email Carol: email@example.com. She'll be glad to help you find out if your school qualifies. If you would like to order fruit independently for your child’s classroom or organize a fruit fundraising program for your school, she can help you with that too.
- Heidi Lewis