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Where to Buy Plants with EBT Benefits

Where to Buy Plants with EBT Benefits

If you don’t know where to buy plants with your EBT card, we’ve got answers! Fortunately, there are various options available to make your gardening dreams a reality while making the most of your benefits.

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Over the last 10 years that we’ve been reporting on all things EBT, one of the most common questions we’ve been asked is about where you can buy plants and fruit trees with your EBT benefits. Based on what we’ve heard, it sounds like a lot of retailers don’t know about this program.

Whether you’re looking for seeds, plant starts, or gardening supplies, this article will guide you through the different sources, both in-person and online, where you can use your EBT card to cultivate your garden.

You Can Buy Plants with EBT

Under Section 3 (g) (2) of the Food Stamp Act of 1977, plants and seeds are categorized as eligible food items. This means that your EBT card can be a gateway to a thriving garden, stretching your SNAP benefits further and enhancing your access to fresh produce.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) actively encourages SNAP recipients to embrace gardening, emphasizing that “For every $1 spent on seeds and fertilizer, home gardeners can grow an average of $25 worth of produce.”

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This not only boosts your purchasing power but also contributes to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. There are many benefits to gardening at home:

  • Save Money: Gardening with EBT allows you to save money by maximizing the value of your benefits, as the cost of seeds and plants is relatively low compared to store-bought produce.
  • Access Fresh Produce: Homegrown fruits and vegetables are readily available, enabling you to access fresh and nutritious produce for your family’s meals.
  • Promote Healthy Eating: Growing your own food encourages healthy eating, as homegrown produce is free from additives and harmful chemicals, contributing to better health.
  • Reduce Environmental Impact: Home gardening reduces the environmental impact associated with transporting store-bought produce, making it an eco-friendly choice that reduces carbon emissions.
  • Achieve Self-Sufficiency: Cultivating your garden fosters self-sufficiency, helping you become less reliant on external sources for food, thereby enhancing your resilience.
  • Boost Mental Well-being: Gardening is known to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, offering therapeutic benefits and promoting mental well-being.
  • Enhance Food Security: Homegrown produce contributes to food security by ensuring a consistent supply of fresh food, even during challenging times, offering peace of mind.

As you can see, gardening comes with many benefits. Now you just need to know where you can buy plants with your EBT card!

Where to Buy Plants with EBT

You can buy plants with your EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card at various retailers that participate in the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) program. That’s what makes this difficult, I guess. You have to shop from a store that is already approved to process EBT transactions.

The USDA has a lot of rules for SNAP retailers. Among them is the requirement that the store must carry at least 36 different staple food items and that staple food sales must account for at least 50% of the store’s gross sales.

Basically, that means you have to buy plants with EBT from a retailer that mostly sells groceries.

Where to Buy Plants with EBT in Person

There are many local businesses that may be able to sell you plants and fruit trees with EBT benefits. These include:

  • Large Grocery Stores and Supermarkets: Many major grocery store chains and supermarkets participate in the SNAP program and allow EBT cardholders to buy plants, seeds, and gardening supplies. These retailers typically have dedicated sections for gardening products.
  • Farmers’ Markets: Some farmers’ markets participate in SNAP, making it possible for EBT cardholders to purchase plant starts, seeds, and other garden-related items directly from local vendors. Not all farmers’ markets offer this option, so it’s essential to check with your local market.
  • Garden Centers and Nurseries: Many garden centers and plant nurseries may accept EBT for eligible plant and seed purchases if they also sell produce. These specialized retailers cater to gardening enthusiasts and offer a wide range of options for plant varieties and gardening supplies.
  • Costco: Costco, a membership-based warehouse club, is known to accept EBT cards for certain food items. Availability may vary by location, but some Costco stores may offer eligible plants and seeds as part of their SNAP-approved items.
  • Walmart: Walmart, a nationwide retail giant, participates in the SNAP program and generally allows EBT cardholders to buy plants, seeds, and gardening supplies. Walmart’s extensive reach makes it a convenient option for many SNAP beneficiaries.

While this use of SNAP benefits is legally valid and written into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), retailers might be unaware that plants and seeds are qualifying purchases with EBT cards.

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If a store clerk declines to accept your EBT card, it is likely due to a computing error. Ask to speak to a manager, and cite the Eligible Food Items listed on the USDA website. You may also cite the 2018 memo released by the USDA that clarifies the legitimacy of these purchases.

Where to Buy Plants with EBT Online

The easiest way to buy plants with EBT online is to purchase them from Amazon, Costco, Walmart or another major retailer that is set up to process online EBT transactions.

In my personal experience, I have found that Amazon has the most robust selection. That’s because many other retailers have not labelled their plants and fruit trees as EBT-eligible even though they should be, which makes it very difficult to purchase those items online.

However, Amazon has a great selection of seeds and starts that you can purchase online with EBT. Here’s a list. Some of these items, like the Back to the Roots kits, even include the jars or pots required to grow the plants!

FAQ about Buying Plants with EBT

We’ve been reporting on this for more than 10 years and over the years, we’ve received a lot of questions about how to buy plants with EBT. Here are some of the most common questions and answers.

Does Home Depot accept EBT for plants?

No. Home Depot cannot accept EBT benefits because they do not meet the requirements for this program. In order to accept EBT benefits, staple foods must make up at least 50% of their gross retail sales and that’s clearly not the case for Home Depot.

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Does Lowes accept EBT for plants?

No. Just like Home Depot, Lowes cannot accept EBT benefits because they do not meet the program requirements. In order to accept SNAP benefits, they would need to make most of their money from grocery sales and that’s clearly not the case.

Does Tractor Supply take EBT for plants?

Again, stores like Tractor Supply cannot take EBT even for plants because they do not meet the requirements to process SNAP transactions. See the ‘Home Depot’ and ‘Lowes’ answers above.

Where can I buy fruit trees with EBT?

It’s hard to buy fruit trees online because they are bulky and hard to ship. There’s also no guaranteeing what condition they’ll be in when they arrive. That’s why I recommend buying your fruit trees with EBT at Costco or another in-person retailer. Farmers Markets may also be able to sell you fruit trees with EBT as well.

Can you buy fruit trees with EBT at Walmart?

Yes, as long as Walmart is selling fruit trees and has set their system up correctly. Sometimes, internal mistakes at the store mean that the fruit trees aren’t marked EBT eligible. If someone declines your transaction, point them to the USDA website where it says fruit trees should be covered.

Is Aerogarden EBT Eligible?

The Aerogarden has been marked EBT eligible on Amazon in the past, but this was likely due to a glitch. The Aerogarden pods are EBT-eligible because they contain seeds and are intended to grow food, but the actual base Aerogarden indoor gardening system is not EBT eligible because it is not an edible food item. Similarly, planting pots and gardening gloves are also not EBT eligible even though they are used for gardening.

Relief Recap

If you’re ready to start your garden, you can buy plants with EBT in person or online. This article has listed several places that will allow you to purchase seeds, starts, plants and even fruit trees with your food benefits. Head over to one of these recommended retailers to start your garden today!

AN

Saturday 22nd of June 2024

I tried to buy a mint plant but was declined by Superior Grocers. The store clerk said I could buy mint from the vegetable section but plants with soil are not eligible. I said you can buy edible plants using EBT and I have done so at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. She said she never heard of this and it must be a personal store policy. However when she attempted to return the mint to its OG location she couldn’t find it. BECAUSE IT WAS IN THE VEGETABLE SECTION. Not the floral section. I will speak to a manager next time.

Aimee C Currier

Friday 8th of March 2024

Where can I buy parsley ,basil thyme plants with my EBT

Amy

Saturday 22nd of June 2024

@Aimee C Currier,

Trader Joe’s . I bought several edible plants .

Eric

Monday 15th of May 2023

Where can I buy fruit and vegetable seeds for growing with ebt

Catherine Marucci

Tuesday 16th of May 2023

Hi Eric. This search tool can help you to locate farmers' markets that accept EBT: https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets

Judy

Sunday 7th of May 2023

Where can I buy fruit tree plants with my ent card in Oregon

Catherine Marucci

Tuesday 9th of May 2023

Hi Judy. You can use this search to find out if farmers' markets in your area accept EBT: https://www.usdalocalfoodportal.com/

Maria

Sunday 7th of May 2023

@Patricia,

I was just at Walmart and they have blackberries listed as a shrub so the purchase refused my EBT card. When I asked for a manager, the manger looked at the receipt and said it wasn’t accepted because it isn’t a food. I pointed to the berries growing on the picture and the cashier said yes she is right. It would be considered a food. The manager said she couldn’t override the register because snap has very strict rules; I said yes they do and I will be phoning them Monday morning to explain you wouldn’t take my card. Then she said she couldn’t do anything because the request has to go to district to make changes to the store’s system. I said I will call snap and you call your district. She said would you like to pay cash? I said if I had cash we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.