Our Great Tomato Share
UC Master Gardeners donate tomato plants for students
On Thursday, May 7, CalFresh Healthy Living, UC staff will give tomato seedlings to Oakland parents who come to pick up food for their children at West Oakland Middle School. The plants are being donated by the UC Master Gardener Program of Alameda and Contra Costa counties
“Gardening activities can help increase children's interest in eating fresh fruits and vegetables and improve their understanding of the health benefits and major nutrients found in the plants grown,” said Tuline Baykal, program supervisor of the CalFresh Healthy Living, UC team in Alameda County.
The plants were part of the annual plant sale normally held in April to raise funds for the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County, which is funded primarily by revenue generated by the plant sale and donations. The sale, which attracts thousands of gardening enthusiasts, was canceled due to COVID-19 safety concerns.
“We didn’t want the plants to go to waste, we wanted to get them out into the community,” said Dawn Kooyumjian, UC Master Gardener Program coordinator.
In past weeks, they gave away tomato plants at Sankofa Academy, which serves children in preschool through fifth grade.
UC Master Gardener volunteer Devra Laner coordinated with OUSD to distribute plants at the meal giveaways.
In addition to the plants being given away to Oakland families, the UC Master Gardener Program in Contra Costa County has donated 30,000 plants to 48 community and school gardens in the Bay Area. They also provided plants to local nurseries that could not keep up with the current demand for gardening supplies that COVID-19 has created.
“Typically, our plant sale takes in $85,000 or more. Because of COVID-19, we turned the Great Tomato Sale into what our gardeners call ‘Our Great Tomato Share’ to support our underserved community,” said Frank McPherson, director of UC Cooperative Extension for the Bay Area.
For more information about the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County, visit http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/.
For more information about the UC Master Gardener Program of Alameda County, visit http://acmg.ucanr.edu/.
For more information about CalFresh Healthy Living, UC in Alameda County, visit http://cealameda.ucanr.edu/http___ucanrorg_sites_alamedacounty4h21/uccalfresh/
Pam Kan-Rice, (510) 206-3476,firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuline Baykal (510) 295-3501