The kickoff of the 2009 California watermelon season was the catalyst as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. rolled the company’s on-going locally grown promotion into Napa County July 22, a region best known for its wine production.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer invited Napa County Supervisor Keith Caldwell and Assistant Agricultural Commissioner Greg Clark to an American Canyon Wal-Mart store to highlight the partnership between the chain and California growers, according to a Wal-Mart news release.

 â€œWal-Mart’s commitment to locally grown produce allows our customers to add local flavor to their summer meals and feel good knowing their purchase is helping support their local economy,” Kimberly Sentovich, regional general manager and vice president for Wal-Mart, said in the release.

 American Canyon, a southern suburb of Napa, is surrounded by thousands of acres of grape vineyards, for wines from Napa and Sonoma counties.

 â€œWe are happy to have stores like Wal-Mart that serve the local community, not only as a retailer, but by supporting the economy through purchasing local products,” Clark said in the release.

 Grower-shipper Van Groningen &amp Sons Inc., Manteca, Calif., is among the companies supplying California watermelons to Wal-Mart.

 â€œAs a grower of fresh California watermelons, we are happy to supply so many American Canyon residents with a delicious product to enjoy,” co-owner Dan Van Groningen said in the release.

Wal-Mart takes locally grown campaign to California wine country
                                                        Courtesy Wal-Mart

Dylan Adams, a third-grade student from Northwood Elementary School in Napa County signs a copy of his winning essay from the recent California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom contest for Napa County Assistant Agricultural Commissioner Greg Clark at the American Canyon Wal-Mart during a July 23 event highlighting locally grown produce.