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WVU Extension sets record for “world’s largest gardening lesson” at Morgantown baseball game

Sherry Weaver teaches the world's largest gardening lesson on July 28, 2023 at the Monongalia County Ballpark.

Sherry Weaver teaches the world's largest gardening lesson on July 28, 2023 at the Monongalia County Ballpark. (Brian Bornes/WVU Extension)

Grow This: West Virginia Garden Challenge shattered the standing record for the “world’s largest gardening lesson” on July 28, 2023, at a West Virginia Black Bears game in Morgantown.

More than 1,300 fans were in attendance for Friday’s game. The previous record, set in Turkmenistan in October 2022, was 569. 

“This just shows what the Grow This community can accomplish when we work together” Kristin McCartney, WVU Extension assistant professor and public health specialist, said. “Grow This is more than a public health campaign now. It’s becoming a movement.”

A fan receives Grow This supplies as part of the world record attempt.

A fan receives seeds, soil, a grow bag, and Grow This stickers in preparation for the world record attempt. (Brian Bornes/WVU Extension)

Grow This, created by the WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program, gives away free seeds to any West Virginia resident who fills out an online survey. The program’s popularity exploded in 2020 when COVID-19 lockdowns sparked an increased interest in home gardening. Over 16,000 people signed up for seeds in 2023.

“Over the last six years, we’ve helped tens of thousands of West Virginians how to grow their own food by providing out free seeds and gardening instruction. This world record attempt was another way to get people excited about home gardening, by showing how simple and fun it really can be,” McCartney said.

The world record attempt occurred in the middle of the 4th inning, during the Black Bears’ bout against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers of Niles, Ohio. Leading up to the attempt, WVU Extension staff handed cucumber seeds, cups of soil, grow bags and Grow This stickers to eager fans.

Gina Wood of WVU Extension helps a young black bears fan water her soil.

Prior to the world record attempt, WVU Extension staff gave fans the supplies they needed to complete the gardening lesson. (Brian Bornes/WVU Extension)

When the time arrived, “Grow This Has Talent” winner Sherry Weaver hopped onto the away-side dugout. Speaking into a wireless microphone, with a live feed shown on the ballpark’s scoreboard, she helped fans start their cucumber seeds and explained how they could grow the plants in common household containers.

“I was a little nervous. Then it happened so fast. I got down there, they gave me the mic, they threw me up and it just naturally worked itself out,” Weaver said.

According to the Black Bears official ticket scans, 1,335 fans attended the game — more than doubling the previous record for “world’s largest gardening lesson.”

Weaver teaches her gardening lesson at Monongalia County Ballpark.

More than 1,300 showed up to the ballpark, more than doubling the previous record. (Brian Bornes/WVU Extension)

WVU Extension is collecting all necessary documentation, ticket sales information as well as photo and videos of the event, to submit for inclusion in the record books. 

“And we even had more employees that have been unaccounted for,” Trevor Dolan, Black Bears sponsorship and sales manager said. “It was awesome. It was a great time, and we were super excited to be part of it.”

Grow This participants chose Weaver to deliver the world-record-setting lesson through the “Grow This Has Talent” contest on the program’s Facebook page

She is a Clay County native but now lives in Shinnston with her husband and two daughters. She grew up around farming but only started gardening in 2015. Since then, her garden efforts have grown to include selling produce and baked goods at local markets, as well as sharing her love and knowledge of gardening on Tiktok, Facebook and Instagram, where she goes by the handle Quite Contrary Kitchen Gardens (@QCKitchenGardens).  Her entry for the “Grow This Has Talent” online contest received hundreds of votes.

zrh  07/31/22

Zack Harold
Multimedia Specialist
WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program

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