DOLE Fruit Bowls, Captain Planet Foundation, and Tops Friendly Markets Join Forces to Gift Learning Gardens

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Launching today, the DOLE Fruit Bowls, Captain Planet Foundation and Tops Friendly Markets Learning Garden Grant contest will offer elementary schools in the Tops Friendly Markets service area the chance to win a learning garden installation for their school. Together, these three organizations are joining forces to offer local students the opportunity to interact with the environment through a learning garden, while expanding their palates and learning about food origins.

"Here at Dole, we understand the importance of teaching children the benefits of incorporating fruits and vegetables into their diet, whether they are enjoying fresh produce from their learning garden, or DOLE Fruit Bowls as a healthy snack or lunchbox addition. With DOLE Fruit Bowls, students not only get to enjoy one serving of delicious fruit no matter the season, they can reuse the bowl to plant a seedling in and watch it grow," said Stan Stuka, Senior Business Manager, DOLE Fruit Bowls. "By partnering with Captain Planet Foundation and Tops Friendly Markets to host the Learning Garden Grant program, we are helping more students learn about and develop healthy habits."

The contest will be hosted on CaptainPlanetFoundation.org through May 3, 2014. Two winning schools, which will be announced at the beginning of June, will receive five raised beds planted on school property, a fully-equipped mobile cooking cart, and lesson supply kits that will contain all the necessary tools for learning in the garden. Standards-based lesson plans for incorporating the learning garden into curriculum will also be provided to teachers, who will have the opportunity to attend a one-day professional development workshop locally-hosted by Captain Planet Foundation.

"Anything can be taught in the context of the garden, and hands-on learning supports student understanding of natural systems, food origins, and healthy eating," explained Leesa Carter, Executive Director of Captain Planet Foundation. "Captain Planet Foundation is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of environmental stewards, and ensuring they are armed with an understanding of the natural world in which they live. We are thrilled to be working with Tops Friendly Markets and DOLE Fruit Bowls to provide two winning schools with CPF Learning Gardens!"

The winning schools will also be honored with an end-of-year celebration for teachers and students, hosted by Tops Friendly Markets.

"We are excited to provide this opportunity for the schools within our communities to enter the Learning Garden Grant program," said Frank Curci, Tops president and CEO. "Giving back to the neighborhoods we serve is incredibly important to us, and we are always looking for ways to improve the quality of the life for children through education around nutrition and healthy living."

To enter the challenge, parents and school officials can visit captainplanetfoundation.org/topsmarketcontest/ and submit an entry form detailing the school's interest in nurturing a learning garden and ability to incorporate one within their lesson plans. The contest opens on March 24, 2014 and the entry deadline is May 3 at 11:59PM EST.