To-Do for Veggie U

Each July, the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration transforms little Milan, Ohio, into a culinary oasis.

With a chef lineup that rivals the talent at top-tier events in Aspen and New York, more than a thousand attendees congregate along the Huron River at the Culinary Vegetable Institute to sample spectacular dishes from an amazing array of celebrity chefs.

The event celebrates more than just cuisine. This annual fundraiser benefits Veggie U, a nonprofit children’s education program that teaches the importance of nutrition and sustainable agriculture by providing interactive lesson plans with a classroom garden kit to elementary schools and special-needs students.

The kitchen gardens at the institute are a fitting backdrop for an event dedicated to reconnecting children with agriculture. In a generation where most kids think a carrot comes from the grocery store rather than the ground, Veggie U brings the farm to their classroom.

The science curriculum that Veggie U distributes interweaves lessons about plant growth with nutrition education. It equips teachers with all the materials they need to grow and harvest a mini-crop in the classroom. Students monitor their plants’ growth and taste unfamiliar vegetables while learning skills like reading a food label to empower them to make better food choices.

Veggie U makes an impact in schools across the country where programming is funded, but it relies on individual donors and corporate sponsors to place more kits in more classrooms. The 10th annual Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration is July 21, 2012. Visit VeggieUFoodAndWine.com for more information.