CHAPEL HILL -- A local preschool got a special delivery recently when it won boxes -- and boxes -- of gardening supplies through a national contest. Mi Escuelita Spanish Immersion Preschool was one of 75 preschools across the country to receive a Wuzzleburg Preschool Garden Award from the National Gardening Association. There were more than 1,000 applicants.Sponsored by the children's television program, "Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!," Mi Escuelita (My Little School) received seeds, shovels, gardening supplies and educational materials from the association's Gardening With Kids catalog. "We had a lot of fun opening all the boxes and seeing the kids faces as they saw what was in the boxes," said Cristina Rodriguez, lead teacher for the Lunitas class (3- to 4-year-olds). "They got so excited trying to guess what was in the boxes."The preschool, which recently celebrated its seventh anniversary, is a Spanish immersion program for children from 1 to 5 years old. It seeks to be a place where people of different cultures come to share their strengths, preparing children for a future of tolerance, effective learning and good citizenship.The garden is in its third year. Managed by a parent volunteer, it invites participation from every age group. In January, the children perused seed catalogs and discussed their favorites. They then voted on which seeds to plant this year. We have just completed planting radishes, carrots, peppers, tomatoes and beans. Soon we will plant sunflowers and zinnias. The teachers incorporate the garden into every portion of the curriculum. The garden provides opportunity to talk about how living things grow and respect for all living things (including those we don't like so much, like Japanese beetles). Last year, deer ate all the radishes, and students had a chance to talk about how to deal with disappointment and how to start all over again. We incorporate culture into our garden discussion by talking about the origin of these plants and how different ethnic groups use them. We made birdhouses out of gourds and talked about indigenous people and how they use gourds for cooking and utensils. Many of the teachers are from Colombia and can speak firsthand about the use of gourds. We use the garden to encourage storytelling and reading skills. We have developed a blog where the children report from the garden to communicate garden events with their parents and family in distant places. We have readers from several other states and countries. We use the garden to encourage math and counting skills by measuring rainfall and counting our produce. Soon we hope to have a weekly farmers market so the kids can sell their produce to parents and learn about interacting with adults and about money. Last year, with the help of the Flat River Farm, we had a tomato tasting with nine different varieties for the kids. The ways that the garden contributes to our curriculum are endless and ever-evolving.