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Wegmans Food Markets is selling gardening kits and tools this spring to help kids raise their own vegetables. Some items are branded with favorite animated characters of the younger set, including Veggie Tales seed packets, Dora the Explorer trowels and Go Diego Go! garden gloves.
According to Donn White, Wegmans' category merchant for seasonal merchandise, "The items coming in for this year's growing season are updated for today's kids, and they're really fun."
Among the reasons Wegmans is encouraging children to garden: As they see plants thrive under their care, they feel a sense of accomplishment; they may be more eager to eat vegetables they've grown themselves; and knowing how foods grow prepares them to make smarter environmental and nutritional choices as they grow up.
While waiting for growing season to start, children can learn about gardening with the Sprout & Grow Window with Wonder Soil from Educational Insights, available at the grocer for $14.99 The kit includes seeds of peas and beans that kids can plant and watch sprout, develop leaves and grow roots over a month's time. The clear box containing the plants grow gives young gardeners a "worm's-eye view" of how roots form under the soil, while a collection of "did-you-know" facts provides fun information, including the knowledge that the biggest seed is a coconut, a peanut is a seed and a carrot is the root of a carrot plant.
Among the additional growing kits offered by Wegmans are the Veggie Tales Garden Pail Growing Kit, with seeds, potting medium and a pail to hold growing plants, for $8.99, and the Veggie Tales Kids Greenhouse, for $5.99.
Stores will also carry items children need for spring planting outdoors, such as trowels, cultivators and gloves for small hands, in addition to Veggie Tales seed packets from Ferry Morse Seeds.
The grocer decides on the breadth of its gardening assortment by monitoring trends in customer interests. Sales for canning supplies grew 31 percent at Wegmans in 2008, notes White. "Customers want to save money by cutting back where they can, such as taking fewer vacations and doing more at-home activities," he says. "More people are canning these days. More people are interested in healthier, locally grown foods -- and harvesting food from your own backyard is as locally grown as you can get!"
For adult gardeners, Wegmans stocks a variety of seeds, flower and vegetable plants, and other gardening items.
Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans operates 72 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.