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VegHeads 4-H club in North Fort Myers to give away free vegetable seeds

August 2, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Pine Island Eagle

For garden enthusiasts in the North Fort Myers area, growing vegetables could be as easy as going to the North Fort Myers Recreation Center.

Beginning Tuesday, Aug. 8, free fall vegetable seeds will be available at the North Fort Myers Rec Center at 2000 North Recreation Park Way.

For the third year in a row, the VegHeads 4-H youth club, which is based at Veterans Park in Lehigh Acres, will be gifted tens of millions of seeds by Rural King of Bonita Springs. The club has actually been holding the event since its inception in 2013, but hadn't received the gift until 2015, said Karen Harty, who supervises the group.

"Rural King gives us the seeds that will be expiring at the end of the year. We fill five cars of seeds. We drive them back to Lehigh Acres and offer them for free at Veterans Park," Harty said, who added the seeds would otherwise have been discarded.

As one of its community service projects, the club sorts the donated seed packets, creates a variety pack of five or six packages of seeds such as tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc., then provides them to the public at no charge.

Harty said he pulls the vegetables she knows won't grow here, such as squash.

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The kids get the seeds on Aug. 5, spend two days sorting and packaging them in Ziploc bags and make them available on Aug. 8.

Harty said until this year, they always had a surplus of seeds at the end of summer. She solved that issue by calling the North Fort Myers Rec Center and receiving its permission to be a distribution point.

"The Rec Center is next door to the 4-H center. Why shouldn't we offer them there? It's more agricultural and rural and better suited there instead of, say Estero," Harty said, who used the Rec Center for her monthly edible gardening exchange meetings, which she discontinued last year.

The seeds, which are primarily for things grown in the winter in Florida, will be distributed in a little basket at the front desk without a 4-H person present. Those who want seeds can ask for them at the front desk and be asked to fill out a small form asking name, hometown and e-mail address if interested in learning more about edible gardening.

The seeds are also distributed to other areas of Lehigh. Those seeds that are left in January go to the 4-H Fun Day.



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