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Local farmer donates $2,500 to Larson Elementary

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Posted: Saturday, September 18, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 6:13 am, Sat Sep 18, 2010.

It's not your typical partnership. But a local farmer has joined up with a Lodi school to donate much-needed money. The presentation from the America's Farmers Grow Communities organization was made Friday at Larson Elementary.

The school was the only recipient in San Joaquin County, and only one of 10 in California.

The donation

Joe Paper, of Lodi, was selected as a winner in program, which gives farmers the opportunity to win $2,500 for their favorite local nonprofit organizations.

In its initial year, the America's Farmers Grow Communities program has provided nearly 500 farmers in 10 states with $2,500 awards to direct to their favorite nonprofit organization. On Aug. 31, the program expanded nationwide to more than 1,200 counties in 38 states.

"He could have chosen to give it to the FFA, anyone. But he chose us," Principal Cheryl Nilmeyer said of Paper.

A big check

On Friday, a representative traveled to Lodi from St. Louis for the presentation of the over-sized check. It coincided with the celebration of Constitution Day as Nilmeyer drove home how important farming is to the country's history.

Students dressed in red, white and blue recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem as part of the celebration. The school choir sang additional selections throughout the 30-minute assembly.

Plans for money

Nilmeyer said the money will be used to buy agriculture-related books for Larson's school library to give students a connection to where the money came from. "And to learn about farming and grape-growing, everything that's pretty much what Lodi is all about," she added.

"Farming's kind of a dying breed."

Program at a glance

The grant program is part of a broad commitment by Monsanto Fund to highlight the important contributions farmers make every day to help grow their local communities, according to the web site.

More than 20,000 farmers participated in the program, which is designed to benefit nonprofit groups such as ag youth schools and other civic organizations. For more information, and to see a full list of winners, visit www.growcommunities.com.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@ lodinews.com.

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