Almost 40 California elementary and middle schools have received grants from the California Fertilizer Foundation (CFF) to be used to implement or enhance school garden programs.

The first eight schools to receive grants from the foundation after it was formed in 1999 were urban schools, but that has expanded to schools throughout the state in both rural and urban areas.

“Understanding where food comes from is a critical connection for students.”

Recently, Jennifer Lombardi, manager of the foundation and director of communications for the newly formed California Plant Health Association, was in Fresno, Calif., recently to present checks totaling $2,000 to four schools ($500 each), three in the Kingsburg school district and one in Fresno Unified School District.

“Understanding where food comes from is a critical connection for students for a variety of reasons,” said Lombardi. “School gardens provide a real-life model for where food comes from, how it gets from the field to the table, as well as the consumer's role in it.”

With this program, California's school children also increase their understanding of the state's No. 1 industry, agriculture through school gardens. “When we do this, we also enhance the existing curriculum and goals within the classroom.”

Besides the three schools in Fresno County, schools in Davis, Whittier, Chula Vista, San Ysidro, Salida and Millville received grants of $500 each this fall.

Chris Moudry, of Basin Fertilizer and Chemical Co., is chairman of the CFF foundation trustees.

E-mail: harry_cline@intertec.com