URI Cooperative Extension giving away 300,000 seed packets

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Courtesy of URI Cooperative Extension

KINGSTON, R.I. – January 13, 2017 – For nearly two decades, the Master Gardener Program at the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension has teamed with Ocean State Job Lot to give away hundreds of thousands of packets of flower, vegetable and herb seeds to local schools, youth groups and other non-profit organizations.

This year, a total of 300,000 seed packets are available.

According to Vanessa Venturini, who directs the Master Gardener Program, Job Lot annually donates the seeds they don’t sell the previous year.

“Seeds are labeled for a certain year and can’t be sold the following year, but there’s nothing wrong with them,” she said. “If you’re careful about how you store them, seeds can last for many years.”

URI Master Gardeners are now sorting this year’s bumper crop of seeds and preparing to make them available to any school, scout group, 4-H club, community garden, or other education-based organization or youth group in the area.

“Planting a seed and watching it grow is an incredible learning experience for kids,” Venturini said.

The deadline for ordering seeds is February 10. Seeds may be picked up in person at URI’s East Farm on January 28 and February 25. These seed pickup days offer the opportunity to attend a free seed starting workshop at noon, or to ask questions of trained URI Master Gardener volunteers.

This year for the first time, the URI Master Gardener Program is covering the cost of mailing seeds to Rhode Island nonprofit groups that submit their orders by January 31. Proof of non-profit status must accompany the order. Other groups may receive seeds by mail for the cost of postage.

Order forms may be downloaded at http://web.uri.edu/mastergardener/freeseeds/ or contact the URI Cooperative Extension at 401-874-2900 or outreach@uri.edu.