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Thousands of people sign up for free seeds during COVID-19 shutdown

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) A gardening challenge started by the WVU Extension service two years ago has now become so popular they are out of seeds.

Photo by Victoria Cox

“I’m not sure if they were as excited as I was,” said Jennifer Testerman about the moment the seeds came in the mail. She and her kids are participating in the Grow This: West Virginia Garden Challenge. “The table became a nursery. So my dining room has now turned into a greenhouse.”

WVU’s Extension Service’s Family Nutrition Program sends free seeds to anyone in West Virginia who fills out a short survey. This year things really took off. The past two years only about 200 people participated. But the idea has really blossomed.

“We were really shocked when we released the challenge this year. Within the first few days we had over 1,000 participants,” said Kristin McCartney, public health specialist for WVU Extension.

She said she found out Wednesday the program now has over 25,000 participants.

Photo by Jennifer Testerman

The program includes an active online community that provides tips, shares ideas and there are even growing contests with prizes. It seems to be just what people needed in a time like this.

“You know when our country faces challenges this is a time that we kind of return to our roots, no pun intended, and start getting back to the basics,” McCartney said.

Testerman said the project is helping her kids learn about science and responsibility. “It is a plant and you have to take care of it. They’ll reap what they put into it,” she said.

Right now there has been so much interest they can’t take any more requests for seeds but they are still looking at new ways to get people involved in the project.

WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program’s work is supported by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

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