Free starter seed packets available at some county Extension Offices

Posted 5/6/22

Following the launch of the new Unity Gardens Initiative by Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried ....

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Free starter seed packets available at some county Extension Offices

Posted

TALLAHASSEE — Following the launch of the new Unity Gardens Initiative by Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) announced locations where Floridians can pick up free seed packets starting Monday, May 9.

“Food brings us together, and its production can bring our communities together,” said Commissioner Fried. “Now, more than ever, we need to work together and encourage positive civic engagement – and these gardens are a great way to do that while growing healthy foods.”

Floridians will be able to pick up their free starter seed packets starting Monday, May 9 from one of the 59 participating University of Florida IFAS extension offices that are home to a Master Garden volunteer program. Individuals will receive seed packets and an IFAS Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide to start their own Unity Garden. Eggplant, corn, sweet peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, and three different varieties of tomato seeds will be available.

The mission of FDACS Unity Gardens Initiative is to bring Floridians together to encourage positive community engagement, healthy living, better mental health, and to connect with our food systems and production. Florida gardeners are invited to share pictures of their Unity Gardens on social media using #FLcommUNITYGardens.

Participating Extension Offices in South Central Florida include:
• Collier County: 14700 Immokalee Road, Naples, 239-252-4800;
• Hendry County: 1085 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle, 863-674-4092;
• Highlands County: 4509 George Blvd., Sebring, 863-402-6540;
• Martin County: 2614 S.E. Dixie Highway, Stuart, 772-288-5654;
• Palm Beach County: 559 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, 561-233-1712.

The Okeechobee County Extension Office does not currently have a Master Gardener and did not receive the starter packs, but did receive some seeds which will be distributed starting Monday.

Master Gardeners are volunteers.

Become a Master Gardener

The Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program recruits individuals who are interested in gardening and enjoy sharing what they learn with others. Participants complete a 50-hour (or longer) training course sponsored by the University of Florida and the local county Extension office.

Interested applicants should contact their county extension office.

In return for their training, these new Master Gardener volunteers serve 75 hours within the first year of their certification, per the statewide program bylaws.

Certified Master Gardener Volunteers work through their county Extension office to educate Floridians and provide research-based information about gardening — America’s most popular pastime. Master Gardener Volunteers can fulfill their volunteer hours in a variety of ways, including:
• Answering horticultural questions over the phone, in person, or through a regular newspaper column,
• Participating in community and school garden projects,
• Giving educational programs to the public,
• Supporting youth activities,
• Performing soil sample evaluations,
• Certifying Florida-Friendly yards through the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Program.

Master Gardener volunteers can renew their certification by participating in 10 learning hours and completing 35 volunteer hours each year. They must also adhere to the Master Gardener Volunteer policies.

The Florida Master Gardener Program is an outreach program composed of UF/IFAS Extension certified volunteers who are trained to provide research-based horticultural education to Florida residents. Participants of the program must complete a 50-hour plus training course provided by the University of Florida. Hours may vary by county. Contact your local county extension office for more information or visit the Florida Master Gardener website at https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/mastergardener/

County Extension Offices in South Central Florida include:
• Collier County, 14700 Immokalee Road, Naples, 239-252-4800;
• Glades County: 900 U.S. Highway 27, Moore Haven, 863-946-0244;
• Hendry County: 1085 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle, 863-674-4092;
• Highlands County: 4509 George Blvd., Sebring, 863-402-6540;
• Martin County: 2614 S.E. Dixie Highway, Stuart, 772-288-5654;
• Okeechobee County: 458 U.S. Highway 98, Okeechobee, 863-763-6469;
• Palm Beach County: 559 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, 561-233-1712.

uf/ifas, extension office, seeds

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