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Interest grows in WVU Extension Service gardening program during COVID-19 crisis

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More than 2,300 West Virginians have signed up for Grow This: WV Garden Challenge, an annual program by the West Virginia University Extension Service’s Family Nutrition Program that encourages home gardening. 

Grow This, which launched in 2018, usually has a few hundred participants each year. But the program has seen a surge on interest after the COVID-19 global pandemic began shutting down businesses and schools.

Participation is free. Every few weeks, those who sign up through a short online survey will receive a packet of seeds in the mail. In addition, Family Nutrition Program staff in some counties are distributing growing kits along with school lunch deliveries. This year’s crops will be microgreens, peas, tomatoes and butternut squash.

Participants can also receive support from Family Nutrition Program health educators and WVU Extension agents, and participate in a Facebook community of nearly 2,000 fellow gardeners. 

The Facebook page is also where Family Nutrition Program staff will keep participants informed about special growing contests and challenges that will take place throughout the growing season.

Quotes and comments

“The idea behind Grow This is, if you’re new to gardening, just try one thing and see how you do. It’s a comfortable place for people to start.”

“The Facebook page is a great place for people to share ideas. Even though we’re spread out, it creates a community.” 

“There are times when, as a society, we need to pull together and do something good. This is one of those times. And it just happens to be the right time of year to garden, too.” – Kristin McCartney, Family Nutrition Program specialist and assistant professor

Target audiences

  • Community members
  • Teachers
  • Parents
  • Gardeners



CONTACT: Zack Harold
Multimedia Specialist
WVU Extension Service Family Nutrition Program

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