The Oregon Garden Challenge, hosted by OSU Extension Food Hero Challenge began on March 1 and people can sign up and start preparing to collect their seed kits. Kits are still available at the county Extension offices.
Only Oregonians will receive seeds but Halie Cousineau, OSU Extension Food Hero state garden education coordinator, encourages anyone to join.
When people sign up, they will be asked to fill out a survey about what level of experience and interest they have in gardening. This survey will help for future gardening challenges.
Anyone interested in joining should sign up on their website: tinyurl.com/94a2xd4y.
Almost 38,000 free seed packets will be distributed to those with enthusiasm for gardening. The seed packets, donated by Bi-Mart, will be packaged into 8,000 seed kits of four different plants: one cool-weather vegetable, one warm-weather vegetable, one herb or edible flower and flowers to encourage pollination.
This year, leftover seed goes to OSU Extension Master Gardeners Champions, who are joining the challenge and will garden along with participants.
The Food Hero Facebook page will hold weekly office hours when gardeners can ask questions, post photos and brag about their accomplishments, Cousineau said. Videos will come out bi-monthly and information on social media will be ongoing. Gardeners can find more than 300 recipes using vegetables and fruits on the Food Hero website.
Throughout summer and into fall, participants will receive a monthly Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge email with gardening information, harvest recipes and storage tips. Challenge information will also be available in English and Spanish on the www.foodhero.org/garden-tips. For more personalized interaction, participants can email challenge leaders or email or call a local master gardener, lists of local contacts can be found at extension.oregonstate.edu.
Children are allowed to participate as well. Beginning April 1, digital lessons will be released every Thursday through June 10. The line-up includes Growing Healthy Kids with OSU Master Gardeners and a four-week lesson plan in partnership with the Oregon Bee Project.
“We’re trying to make the program accessible to anyone, children, elders, people with special needs and the diversity of cultural populations in Oregon,” Cousineau said. “We’re encouraging people anywhere to join. We really want to make sure the information we provide will make people successful. We want to make a community.”