FREE SEEDS: Ohio agencies kick off Victory Garden program ahead of spring planting

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Join Ohio State University Extension (OSUE) and Master Gardener Volunteers (MGV) as we kick off the Ohio Victory Gardens program for 2023 this first week of April.

The program is a partnership between OSUE and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and started in the fall of 2020. The purpose is to inspire people to take up gardening by growing their own Victory Gardens.

ODA approached OSUE to partner in this project in June 2020. In the first year, we piloted the project in eight Ohio counties. Today we are in 50 counties with the goal of having all counties participating next season.

Victory Gardens were originally started in World War I as an answer to food shortages at that time. People were encouraged to grow and store their own food so that food raised by farmers could be sent to the war effort.

The National War Garden Commission promoted the effort. Americans were urged to use idle land such as school and company grounds, parks, and so forth to raise vegetables. They were also encouraged to plant seeds to help win the war.

Citizens were provided with booklets on how to plant, maintain and harvest vegetables. I happen to have a copy of this, given to me by one of my MGV member whose family participated in the original victory gardens.

Citizens of Ohio are once again encouraged to grow their own produce. Not because of the war effort, but because it’s fun, and healthy and the produce is of the highest quality.

ODA, through a grant, purchased the seeds and had them packaged in individual sample packets. They then distributed them to 50 OSU Extension offices around Ohio.

The kick-off for this project is this coming week. These seed sample packets will be available at Extension offices around Ohio. For a list of the counties and their distribution sites and times, go to and click on the Seeds – Come and Get ‘Em tab. Then click in the first paragraph where it says county location.

Counties participating in our area include Clark, Greene, Hamilton, Miami, Montgomery and Shelby. If your county is not on the list this year, watch for details next March. The goal is to have all Ohio counties participating by then.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

The sample seed packet includes four seed varieties including lettuce, carrots, cucumbers and sunflowers.

There is enough lettuce and carrots to plant a couple of eight-foot rows. The cucumbers are enough to feed a family of four and the sunflowers are because everyone needs a little sunshine in their garden.

In addition, those participating can complete a survey and be entered into a drawing for a gardening kit.

The website mentioned above also includes information on growing these plants as well as other great gardening information.

And, this summer, you can share your successes (or challenges!) on social media using #OhioVictoryGardens.

Let’s grow Ohio!

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

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