Ohio’s movement to promote urban and rural gardening is back and bigger than ever. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Ohio State University Extension are partnering once again to encourage Ohioans to cultivate their own produce.
At the Franklin County OSU Extension facility April 9, Ohio Victory Gardens officially kicked off with a special appearance from Brutus Buckeye, who helped plant a few seeds to start the season.
The popular Ohio Victory Gardens program is back for its fourth year and due to high demand, the program is expanding to include 50 counties. OSU Extension offices will be handing out the free seed sample kits to the public to get people planting. Specific days and times for each office are available on the Ohio Victory Gardens website, as well as planting resources and information.
“The Ohio Victory Gardens program is helping to revitalize the art of growing your own fresh food and helping to reconnect people back to agriculture,” said Brian Baldridge, Director of ODA. “Just like all crops, with proper care and water, your seeds will turn into something special that you can use yourself or give to other community members.”
This year’s program will benefit up to 15,000 thousand Ohioans. Each of the participating counties will receive 300 sample seed kits that contain carrot, cucumber, lettuce, and sunflower seeds.
“Growing your own food is a great way to add fresh vegetables and fruits to our diets,” said. Cathann A. Kress, vice president of agricultural administration and dean of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “It’s also a great way to get young people engaged and interested in their food, and agricultural and life sciences.”
OSU Extension is the community-based outreach arm of CFAES, with programming that addresses agriculture and natural resources, community development, family and consumer sciences, and 4-H youth development. Extension professionals throughout the state bring people and ideas together to help CFAES sustain life.
Extension’s educational outreach is enhanced by more than 3,200 Master Gardener Volunteers, who support the Ohio Victory Gardens program by providing gardening advice, helping with community gardens, and promoting local food production among their neighbors throughout the state.
Seeds are now available at participating OSU Extension offices.
All Ohio Victory Gardens participants will be eligible to win a free starter gardening toolkit by completing a short online survey.
Victory Gardens originated during World War I as an answer to a severe food shortage at the time. The idea was wildly successful, growing an army of amateur gardeners and serving to boost morale and patriotism. ODA and OSU Extension revived the effort and are, once again, encouraging people to plant seeds, realize the fruits of their labor, and share their harvest with others if inspired.
The Victory Gardens Program offers a full website with details on seed distribution, advice, and resources on every aspect of planting and harvesting produce.