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WVU Extension breaks world record at Blacks Bears home baseball game

History was made Friday at a West Virginia Black Bears baseball game in Morgantown — but it had nothing to do with what happened on field.

On Friday, the Grow This: West Virginia Garden Challenge broke the record for “world’s largest gardening lesson.” More than 1,300 people were part of the lesson, according to Zack Harold, multimedia specialist for WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program.

That’s more than twice the previous record.

“Setting a world record is a natural fit for Grow This, because the whole reason we started this challenge was to get West Virginians excited about gardening,” Kristin McCartney, WVU Extension assistant professor and public health specialist, said. “We’ve reached tens of thousands of West Virginians with our free seeds over the last six years, but this event gives us the opportunity to reach more people in one place than ever before.”

Grow This, created by the West Virginia University 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 this year.

Grow This participant Sherry Weaver led the world-record gardening lesson. She’s the winner of the recent the “Grow This Has Talent” online contest, receiving hundreds of votes from fellow growers on the challenge’s Facebook page.

Weaver, a Clay County native, 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).

“I am so excited to be able to work with Grow This and WVU Extension to share what I love with such an amazing and exciting crowd,” Weaver said. “Besides, what is more all American than learning to grow your own food at a baseball game?”

Weaver’s lesson focused on using recycled materials in your garden.

The previous world record was set in Turkmenistan in October 2022, where 569 people learned how to plant grape vines.

“The West Virginia Black Bears are excited to team up with the WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program in this attempt to break the world record,” Trevor Dolan, Black Bears sponsorship and sales manager said.