A West Virginia Department of Education container gardening pilot launched to help young children cultivate a taste for fresh fruits and vegetables has prompted a New York publisher to donate books to West Virginia preschools.
Thirty-two child care sites in Cabell, Jackson, Harrison, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Marion, Mason, Putnam, Upshur, Wayne and Wyoming participating in the pilot each received a copy of "Holly Bloom's Garden" from Flashlight Press. The book introduces basic gardening concepts, such as fertilization, gardening tools, patience and the concept of a green thumb. An additional 1,040 copies will be distributed this fall to all centers participating in the West Virginia Universal Pre-K program.
"Flashlight Press is happy to support this wonderful initiative, especially since the program is so well-suited to the content of our picture book, 'Holly Bloom's Garden,'" said Marissa Newman with Flashlight. "We hope the children of West Virginia enjoy the book."
Each participating center receives a two-year grant to grow a container garden in their child care centers. The gardens are to contain strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, bush beans, basil, cilantro and chives. The produce and herbs harvested from the gardens will be incorporated into the child centers' food programs and used for taste tests. The grants can be used to buy soil, five containers, child-sized tools and travel for training. Sites chosen for the pilot program all participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Child and Adult Care Food Program.
"Exposing young children to the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables can help them develop lifelong healthy eating habits," said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. "Good nutrition can fuel academic success throughout a student's academic career."
Sponsors of the Child and Adult Care Food Program provide meals at no extra charge to all enrolled participants at each participating facility, regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital status or family status.
For more information, anyone interested can contact the Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.