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story.lead_photo.caption Grady Gottschalk (from left), Rowan Rains, Shannon Cash, Melissa Swann and River Rains enjoy their Apple Seeds picnic basket July 16 at Gulley Park in Fayetteville. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)

Apple Seeds teaching farm supporters gathered (distantly) July 16 at the nonprofit organization's farm adjacent to Gulley Park in Fayetteville to pick up their chef-prepared pre-ordered picnic baskets and enjoy their repast in the park or anywhere they chose.

Apple Seeds is a nonprofit organization based in Fayetteville that works to educate and excite children about fresh fruits and vegetables while increasing access to healthy food in schools. Their mission is to inspire healthy living through garden-based education.

Picnic purchases benefit the group and allow them to adapt and continue their programs for children. Chef Haley O'Brien's July basket featured a trio of dips with fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, a trio of summer picnic salads, a sweet treat and a bottle of sparkling water.

Small baskets feed a family of two to three for $80 and a family basket feeds a family of four or five for $100.

"It was a great success and we were happy to be able to sell-out this mini-fundraiser for Apple Seeds. Chef Haley O'Brien is a master at putting together delicious and nutritious creations that are a hit with dinner guests. And we are happy to be able to offer guests a safe way to enjoy a meal and an Arkansas summer evening," Tanya Collins, Apple Seeds marketing coordinator, tells me.

For the next Picnic Pickup on Aug. 6, Chef Brooks Cameron has planned a "Mediterranean Summer Mezze" basket to include tabouli, baba ganoush, dolmas, freshly baked flat bread and watermelon with chamoy.

Apple Seeds recently set its adapted annual fall fundraiser, An Evening from the Farm -- formerly An Evening at the Farm -- for Sept. 19. Collins says, "Apple Seeds will deliver a one-of-a-kind experience connecting you to our mission and to the delicious and wholesome food we grow on our farm. This year we will host a cocktail and appetizer on the farm, but the remainder of the dinner will be curated for a beautiful meal experienced at home. We'll even bottle up a little of the our farm magic for you to take with you."

Collins adds that since the start of covid-19, the group has stayed active by "growing and donating fresh, nutritious produce along with kid-pleasing recipes to food insecure children across Northwest Arkansas. We have donated more than 2,000 pounds of fresh produce since March and continue to do so."

The teaching farm also adapted in-person educational content for short videos, which are available via Apple Seeds' YouTube channel and partnering organizations. "Through these, children across the state of Arkansas and beyond can learn where their food comes from, how to harvest and prepare it and how to begin a life-long love of good nutrition."

The Arkansas Department of Education selected Apple Seeds in April to include Cooking in the Schools content for AMI (alternative method of instruction) via PBS when schools closed their buildings due to covid-19. They will continue providing content this school year.

For more event photos -- nwadg.com/photos/society.

Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at [email protected]

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Mary Thompson, Apple Seeds executive director (from left); Tanya Collins, marketing director; Becky Miller, program manager; and Chef Haley O'Brien welcome help out at the Picnic Pickup on July 16 at the teaching farm in Fayetteville. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
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Robyn King (left) and Hannah King pick up their Apple Seeds picnic on July 16 in Fayetteville. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
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Tim and Susan O'Brien (from left) and Will Jennings and Chef Haley O'Brien prepare to play "good"mitten and enjoy their Apple Seeds picnic. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
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Jamie Walker and Brittany Berry help support Apple Seeds on July 16. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
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Cale Nicholson, farm manager for Apple Seeds, harvests cucumber Thursday, July 23, 2020, at the Apple Seeds Teaching Farm in Fayetteville. Visit nwaonline.com/200724Daily/ for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)
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Bailey Stewart, a program coordinator for Apple Seeds, harvests mint Thursday, July 23, 2020, at the Apple Seeds Teaching Farm in Fayetteville. Visit nwaonline.com/200724Daily/ for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)
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At a Glance

Picnic Pickup

Who: Apple Seeds

What: Teaching farm supporters picked up picnic baskets to enjoy socially distanced to benefit the nonprofit organization.

When: July 16

Where: Apple Seeds in Fayetteville

Next: Picnic Pickup, Aug. 6

An Evening from the Farm, Sept. 19

Information: appleseedsnwa.org

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