Garden with Food Hero’s ‘Grow This!’ Gardening Challenge and ODNC Upcycling Tips

Join ODNC and Food Hero with Food Hero’s Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge this spring. Free seed packets and gardening information will be distributed by Food Hero to Oregon state residents as part of the program which aims to inspire kids to grow their own gardens and eat a healthy diet. Upcycle your milk and yogurt containers with our handy tips and mark your progress with our planter sleeves. And when it comes time to harvest, enjoy healthy and easy recipes that combine plants and dairy!

Growing your own food can have a positive impact on your diet and reduce your food waste. Gardening can cut down on the amount of food packaging, travel and time it takes to get your food to you. Plus, it’s fun! Kids love getting their hands in the dirt and watching seeds grow into fruits and vegetables they can pick and eat right out of the garden.

And did you know that meals with fruits, vegetables and dairy are part of a healthy, science-backed diet? Dairy is an essential part of healthy eating patterns as outlined by the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). Milk and dairy foods contribute 13 nutrients, like protein and B12, that complement plants, grains and legumes that may be short on these nutrients.

Teachers, families and individuals can sign up for a seed kit with Food Hero while supplies last. Seeds include a mix of herb and vegetable seeds, as well as flowers that are attractive to pollinators. Or you can join in with your own seeds, says Halie Cousineau, OSU Extension Food Hero state garden education coordinator. Check out her video to learn more about this year’s program:

Once produce is ready to harvest, gardeners can find more than 300 recipes using vegetables, fruits and dairy on the Food Hero website. For more inspiration, check out these delicious recipes for Dairy + Squash, Kale, and Strawberries.

Kids can upcycle their yogurt or milk containers and use sleeves provided by ODNC to help track the care and progress of their plants. Download yours here. And check out our handy list of ways to upcycle your milk and yogurt containers into planters!

Throughout summer and into fall, participants will receive a monthly Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge email with gardening information, harvest recipes and storage tips. Challenge information will also be available in English and Spanish on the Food Hero gardening page.

“We’re trying to make the program accessible to anyone, children, elders, people with special needs and the diversity of cultural populations in Oregon,” said Cousineau. “We’re encouraging people anywhere to join. We want to make a community.”