TAYLOR COUNTY—Gardening is more than the act of tilling up soil and planting seeds. It not only helps put food on the table, but it also can aid in stress reduction, get individuals up and moving increasing physical health and it can bring people together.
This special pastime can also help bridge the past with the present and future. Because of the many benefits that are associated with the act of gardening, the West Virginia University (WVU) Extension Service is challenging residents to put their green thumbs to the test.
The Extension Service’s Family Nutrition Program invites residents to join their Grow This! West Virginia Garden Challenge to see if their skills are top notch.
“West Virginia needs to grow,” said Kristin McCartney, WVU Extension Service Public Health Specialist. “We are a state with high rates of chronic disease, limited opportunities and high poverty, but we have an opportunity to improve.”
That opportunity comes through the initiative led by the extension office, that calls on residents to remember their roots and do their part to help grow not only the state’s health, economy and food security, but that of their local community.
“Home gardening is part of our Appalachian heritage, but the knowledge and skills for gardening have been lost over the last couple of generations,” McCartney voiced. “The Grow This! West Virginia Challenge is a call to action to individuals, families, schools, community groups, higher education and counties to come together around a single cause—to grow WV.”
So, what exactly is the Grow This! West Virginia Garden Challenge and what does it entail? It’s simple.
Residents, families and groups are tasked with planting, tending and growing a traditional “three sisters” garden comprised of corn, squash and beans. According to the extension office, the plants help one another thrive and provide a nutritionally balanced harvest.
Free seeds will be sent to any West Virginia resident who fills out a short survey, which can be accessed at wvu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3kGiG5JbSbxTjnv.
From tilling up the land to planting and maintaining crops, participants will have to document and share their gardening journey through the challenge’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GrowThisWV.
Through the campaign, residents will receive tips, tricks and instruction on growing a thriving garden from WVU Extension professionals.
To make Grow This! even more fun, there will be a variety of mini challenges for participants to enter, providing them with chances to win some garden-themed prizes, to help continue their love of this historic pastime.
Again, the challenge will take place on the aforementioned Grow This! West Virginia Facebook page. Individuals may utilize the survey link provided above to register.
Sign-ups end on January 31, and seeds should arrive in mid-April.
For more information, please contact Kristin McCartney by emailing [email protected] or by calling 304-356-1310.