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Vermonters among those receiving mystery seeds in the mail

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 5:59 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - People across the country, including Vermont, are receiving seeds in the mail they say they didn’t order, raising alarms with agriculture officials over potential dangers.

With a full garden in bloom, Burlington resident Sherika Vitureira was excited to get some seeds in the mail. “It’s funny, I am the perfect target. Here I am in my garden -- I love planting things from seeds,” Vitureira said.

She says that since working from home, she receives mail from all over the world, so she didn’t think much of it when seeds arrived with what she said looked like Chinese characters on the package. “I get a lot of packages from Asia for work, so I thought it was another thing for work,” Vitureira said. But this wasn’t for work and it wasn’t something she ordered. “It wasn’t. It was just seeds, so I was perplexed because I had no idea what they were for or what they were of.”

And Vitureira is not alone, according to Cary Giguere with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. “We have heard of 10 cases in Vermont. There are hundreds nationally,” he said.

**UNSOLICITED SEEDS IN VERMONT** The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) has been notified that...

Posted by Vermont Agency of Agriculture on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

We showed Giguere the seeds that Vitureira was sent. “We haven’t seen these at all. One does look like a poppy seed, one looks like a tree seed, but there is no way to be sure,” Giguere said. He doesn’t know why the seeds were sent to Vitureira or anyone else. “Nobody is sure exactly where they are coming from or why.”

But he says they appear to be illegally sent because they are mislabeled and not inspected, which is required when shipping agricultural products.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating. But if you get them in the mail, Giguere says don’t plant them. “We don’t know what they are. They are an unknown seed. It could be an invasive species,” he said.

Like many with a green thumb, Vitureria was tempted to see what the seeds may be. "Its really hard not to plant them," she said. But now she knows better. "I hope the word gets out not to plant them because you really dont know what it is."

State Agriculture official are asking anyone who received the seeds to contact them.

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