URI Cooperative Extension offers free plant seeds throughout Northeast

Ocean State Job Lot donates hundreds of thousands of seed packets

KINGSTON, R.I. – December 17, 2019 – For more than 20 years, the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener Program have teamed with Ocean State Job Lot to give away more than a million packets of vegetable, flower and herb seeds to schools, youth groups, community gardens and individuals.

In 2020, hundreds of thousands of seed packets will be available to organizations and individuals in New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, thanks to the continued generosity of Job Lot, which donates the seeds they don’t sell the previous year to URI.

“Seeds are labeled for a certain year and can’t be sold the following year, but there’s nothing wrong with them,” said Kate Venturini of URI’s Cooperative Extension. “Instead of sending them back to Burpee for incineration, Job Lot sends them to us to donate through our network. If you’re careful about how you store them, seeds can last for many years and produce a yield.

“We’re thrilled to share these seeds with groups and individuals throughout the Northeast this year,” she added. “And we’ll be excited to hear about how they spread the gift of growing.”

Individuals may request up to 150 packets of free seeds, but they must pay the cost of shipping and handling – 25 cents per packet. Nonprofit organizations, including schools, may order up to 500 seed packets, which can be picked up in person for no charge in Richmond on Saturday, January 11, 18 or 25. Organizations may also pay for postage and receive their orders by mail.

Free seed-starting workshops will be offered on the designated seed pick-up dates in January, and additional workshops will be scheduled around the state.

The deadline for ordering seeds is January 13 at 4 p.m. For more information or to place an order, visit https://web.uri.edu/mastergardener/freeseeds.