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4-H and seed company welcome returning vets
MISSISSIPPI STATE –Mississippi State University Extension Service’s 4-H youth development program will pay tribute to America’s military heroes with the Welcome Home Garden project, sponsored by Burpee Seed Co.
4-H clubs will distribute pouches containing seeds, growing instructions and recipes to troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Burpee Seed representatives hope gardening will not only help reconnect family members who have been separated, but also generate a healthy harvest of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers to offset the financial challenges returning veterans may face. The retail value of the seed packets is about $25, and the estimated harvest value is $1,500.
County-level 4-H clubs requested the pouches, which contain 10 packets of seeds, including zinnia, marigold, lettuce, tomato, carrot, sweet pepper, spinach, radish, cucumber and squash seeds. In addition to distribution, some clubs have planned special gardening projects. Quantities of pouches differ by county, so project leaders encourage veterans and their families to contact them quickly.
The seeds will be used as follows:
- Warren County: Pouches will be distributed to Army Reserve Unit members and their families at centers in Vicksburg, Greenwood and Greenville. Contact: Kathleen Jennings, (504) 450-9294.
- Stone County: Master Gardeners and military youth will plant seeds in a community garden during an after-school program. Contact Brad Jones, (601) 928-5286.
- Lowndes County: Master Gardeners, along with an area horticulture agent, will help youth at the Columbus Air Force Base plant and maintain a garden at the youth center. They also will conduct a seed giveaway event for service members and their families. Contact Sharon Patrick, (662) 328-2111.
- Hinds County: The facilities coordinator at the Brown Loam Experiment Station, a member of the National Guard, will establish a garden and distribute pouches to military members and families during a field day. Contact: Rocheryl Ware, (601) 372-1424.
- Choctaw County: Master Gardeners will plant a flower bed, offer an educational activity and distribute pouches of seeds to military members, youth and families. Contact: Juli Hughes, (662) 285-6337.
- Leflore County: County Master Gardeners, the Greenwood Recycling Center and the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce will distribute pouches to military service members during several community events and plant a community garden with military youth. Contact: Christina Meriwether, (662) 453-6803.
- Lauderdale County: Meridian Naval Air Station 4-H club members, youth center staff and a 4-H military summer intern will offer gardening education activities and distribute pouches to military members and their families. Contact: Nikki Jefcoat, (601) 482-9764.
In addition to the county projects, the Mississippi 4-H Department will work with the G.V. Sonny Montgomery Center for American Veterans at MSU to distribute seed packets to military service members, veterans and their families.
The MSU Extension Service is one of 20 university Extension programs selected to help distribute seed packets to 150,000 military families over the next two springs.