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PA Agriculture Official Recognizes Healthy Garden at Lehigh County School

Healthy Farms, Healthy Schools Grant Applications Due June 17

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of a $500,000 statewide investment to help teach elementary students about healthy food choices and the importance of local agriculture, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today recognized a healthy hands-on project at a Lehigh County school.

The Swain School in Allentown received a $15,000 Healthy Farms and Healthy Schools Grant in 2007 to help fund their project, "Swain's Fertile Grounds," an organic garden where students grow vegetables and herbs.

The Healthy Farms and Healthy Schools Program provides grants to school districts or individual schools that use educational programs to promote healthy eating and locally grown food, Redding said.

"The Healthy Farms and Healthy Schools Program is an important investment in the health of our youth and Pennsylvania agriculture," said Redding. "I applaud the efforts of the Swain School to teach their students about how choosing locally produced, nutritious food helps to ensure a healthier future for our youth and the commonwealth's number one industry."

Students at the Swain School have been planting vegetables and herbs in 10 raised beds in the organic garden and have added a chicken coop on the school's 20-acre campus. Organically-grown produce and eggs are now featured on the school's lunch menu. Additional produce will be sold at the Emmaus Farmers Market in the fall.

Educators at the school have integrated the garden and chickens into their science curriculum, where students are taught about the lifecycles of plants and hens and good nutrition habits.

School districts interested in developing programs that steer students and their parents toward healthier lifestyles are eligible for up to $15,000 in grants. Grants for the 2008-09 school year are due June 17.

Qualified applicants may be awarded grants of up to $15,000 to cover up to 75 percent of the cost of a project; districts must provide the balance through funds or in-kind services. Any public school district, charter or private school with a kindergarten program is eligible to apply for the money. Eligible projects include:

-- Providing nutritional and agricultural education, including the

integration of such information into regular classroom subjects;

-- Focusing on locally-grown food produced by Pennsylvania farms;

-- Teacher and educational staff training on nutrition and agricultural


-- Educational activities that include parents, caregivers and community

groups; and

-- Field trips to Pennsylvania farms or other direct agricultural

educational experiences that teach children about sources of food and

Pennsylvania agriculture.

The Healthy Farms and Healthy Schools Program was established to educate kindergartners and their families about the importance of choosing healthy, locally produced foods while increasing awareness of Pennsylvania agriculture. This past year, 44 school districts were served by the $500,000 grant program.

Applications should be sent to JoAnna Gresham, Bureau of Market Development, PA Department of Agriculture, 2301 N. Cameron St., Room 311, Harrisburg, PA 17110.

For more information, visit, or contact Gresham at 717-772-3094.

CONTACT: Nicole L. Cullison

(717) 787-5085

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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