Victory Gardens returning, expanding

Victory Gardens are returning across Ohio this year through a partnership with the Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

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Victory Gardens are returning across Ohio this year through a partnership with the Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

The program will make free seed sample kits available to residents in 42 counties.

Once again I am really excited that Ohio State University Extension (OSUE) is partnering with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to expand the Ohio Victory Garden (OVG) Program to 42 counties this year, up from 25 counties last year. Eventually it will be in all 88 counties!

The partnership with OSUE and ODA was initiated by ODA Director Dorothy Pelanda in 2020 during the midst of the pandemic. Working with OSUE, seed sample kits were packed and distributed to eight counties in Ohio as a pilot.

The purpose is to inspire Ohioans to grow their own vegetables and encourage more to gain or increase their interest in plants and being outdoors.

You have read many times in this column about the health benefits of gardening, plants and being outdoors. It was also obvious during the pandemic that people needed to be outdoors.

We saw an increased interest in gardening overall with the increase in questions that came into our Extension offices. Parks experienced some of the busiest days ever with people getting outside.

My hope is that this interest not only continues but increases. I have noticed many young people getting involved in our educational programs.

Master Gardener Volunteers (MGV) are an instrumental component in the success of the OVG program. Seeds are distributed through many of our county Extension offices. In addition, this year, if a county doesn’t have a MGV program the seeds are being distributed at the Soil and Water Conservation District office.

MGVs also participated in packaging the smaller sample packets of seeds. Clark county volunteers packaged more 21,968 small packages of carrot seeds; this was done a quarter teaspoon at a time from a 50-pound bag of carrot seeds! Phew – it was quite a project.

These smaller seed packets were then combined in a larger envelope at the ODA offices and distributed to the counties. Counties will begin public distribution in May.

Seeds include carrots, cucumbers, lettuce and sunflowers. Each packet has at least three seeds. Believe me, there are enough carrot seeds in these sample packets to have a nice crop!

To find out if your county is participating and when the distribution occurs, go to u.osu.edu/ohiovictorygarden and click on the tab Seeds – Come and Get ‘Em!

Another event I want to share is the Clark County MGVs annual plant sale in Snyder Park Gardens and Arboretum on Saturday, May 7, starting at 9 a.m.

MGVs have a wonderful selection of great plants for your gardens, all grown in Ohio. In addition, new this year, we will have educational programs on native plants and pollinators as well as a make and take mini garden session.

For more details on the event, go to: go.osu.edu/clarkgardenworkshops.

This major fundraiser helps support the development of the gardens and we appreciate your support.

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at bennett.27@osu.edu.