Victory Gardens, originally called war gardens, began during World War I. Their purpose was to have the public start vegetable gardens to supplement the overall food supply, and at the same time give them the feeling that they were helping in the war effort. The practice was revived during World War II with great success. With the Covid-19 pandemic creating a hardship for many today, Victory Gardens are once again in vogue.

In cooperation with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are encouraging members of the public to start their own Victory Gardens by distributing free starter kits of seeds across the state. Locally, Shelby County Master Gardeners will be giving out seeds at various locations throughout our service area which includes neighboring Auglaize County and Mercer County May 11 through May 17.

Kits will include sampler packets of cucumber, carrot, lettuce, and mixed sunflower seeds. Planting and growing instructions will be included, and Shelby County Master Gardener volunteers may be contacted for additional information by calling the Extension office at 937-498-7239 or emailing shelby.mastergardeners@gmail.com. Gardeners can register to win a garden tool kit. They will also be able to post pictures of their gardens on a website maintained by the ODA. More information is available at https://u.osu.edu/ohiovictorygardens/.

“This would be a great opportunity for families to get their kids involved in gardening,” said Doug Benson, Volunteer Coordinator of Shelby County Master Gardeners. “All of the plants are easy to grow and require little space.”

A limited number of kits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at each distribution site. In Shelby County, most distributions will be on May 14 at the local public libraries: Amos Memorial Library in Sidney 11:00-1:00; Anna library 10:00-12:00, Botkins library 9:30-11:00, Fort Loramie library 10:00-12:00; and Russia library 10:00-12:00, as well as the People’s Garden at Agape Distribution from 10:00-12:00. Kits will be available at the Jackson Center library on May 16 from 2:00-4:00.

Other locations and times include:

Wapakoneta public library May 16, 2:00-5:00 and May 17, 10:30-11:30;

Celina public library May 14, 9:00-11:00;

St. Mary's public library May 11, 6:00-7:00; and

Chickasaw public library May 14, 10:00-12:00.