Grow an Ohio Victory Garden this year

The Ohio Victory Gardens program seed packet for 2021. CONTRIBUTED/PAMELA BENNETT
The Ohio Victory Gardens program seed packet for 2021. CONTRIBUTED/PAMELA BENNETT

Seeds will be distributed in 25 Ohio counties

In 2020, the interest in having a vegetable garden grew more than any other time in my career. The last time there was this much interest was around 2008 when we hit a recession.

At that time, there were several reasons behind the increased interest. People were becoming more conscious of where their food was being grown and the carbon footprint to get it to market. In addition, people also wanted to know where it was grown in case of food-borne illnesses.

Around that time, interest in local foods started to grow. Again, getting produce locally meant it was fresher and wasn’t shipped across the country. And, of course, growing your own foods was a source of some of the freshest produce yet, while at the same time, you know if there were pesticides applied and if so, what and when.

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Last year, the increased interest in vegetable gardens was due to COVID-19 and people being stuck at home with little to do for entertainment. Many turned to their landscape and gardens to keep busy.

I had the best garden ever last year because I spent all summer at home and had more time to take care of the garden.

Seed companies had record sales in 2020 and some are suspecting the same again this year. Extension offices around Ohio had an increase number of phone calls and programs on vegetables. And all in the green industry are hoping that this interest can be sustained.

Seed pickup for the Ohio Victory Garden program in 2020. CONTRIBUTED/PAMELA BENNETT
Seed pickup for the Ohio Victory Garden program in 2020. CONTRIBUTED/PAMELA BENNETT

Last year, Ohio State University Extension partnered with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) on the Ohio Victory Garden program. ODA director Dorothy Pedanda was interested in capturing the interest in vegetable gardening and to encourage greater participation in Ohio counties.

We started in 10 counties last year and this year, we are expanding the program to 25 Ohio counties. Several in the Miami Valley are participating, including Butler, Clark, Greene, Hamilton, Miami and Montgomery counties.

Extension staff in these counties will be giving away sample seed packets for residents. The packets contain a mix of three different species, enough to give you a taste of growing vegetables.

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There is a spring plant (radish or lettuce), a summer plant (beets or cucumber), and a sunflower seed to provide for pollinators and the birds as they produce seed.

More than 25,500 small packets of seeds were put into 8,500 envelopes to be given away. There is information on the envelopes about the website where you can find more information on growing these as well as much more.

You can also go to the website to find details about where the seed packet distribution will be held in your county. For instance, I will be distributing them in Clark County on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 from 9 a.m. to noon at Snyder Park Gardens and Arboretum in Springfield.

For details go to go.osu.edu/ohiovictorygardens.

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.

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