As businesses around the nation deal with the fiscal impact brought by the regulations to limit the spread of the coronavirus, a few industries are still managing to move a lot of product. Among them: garden suppliers.
Though farms supplying food are labeled as essential businesses in California, concerns over food shortages remain as shelter-in-place orders continue and supply chains sometimes falter. As a result, suppliers are experiencing a run on vegetable seeds, and Coastsiders are opting to grow some of their own food to stay somewhat sustainable.
Many are finding that a backyard vegetable garden may help alleviate some stress and ultimately limit trips into public spaces. It’s not just seeds that are being purchased. Several local businesses on the Coastside are experiencing a growing demand for soil, tools and lumber for raised garden beds.
According to Hassett Hardware manager Fernando Costa, seeds, soil and paints have been the biggest sellers lately by far.
“It’s been seeds and any gardening supplies,” Costa said. “That’s basically what’s been keeping us in business.”
Aside from potentially limiting trips to buy groceries, having a self-sustaining garden provides an outlet to invest time and attention in a stress-free environment.
“I think with people being inside their house, they’re looking for something to do,” Costa said. “Gardening can be a great exercise, pulling weeds, planting. It can give their brains a break.”
Along with their Daylight Farms in Half Moon Bay, John and Eda Muller run the Heirloom Seed Store online. They’ve seen a massive surge in seed sales, both online via their website and Amazon and in local stores, including the Half Moon Bay Nursery and New Leaf Community Market.
“All the local stores have probably been 300 percent up on seeds,” said Eda Muller, who has been selling seeds on the Coastside for 20 years. “Our business is sort of out of control.”
Muller put in her regular order of Franchi Seeds from an Italian distributer in January. Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic weeks before the United States, and the country enforced mandatory stay-at-home orders. Muller said the seeds arrived just as the
coronavirus began to impact everyday life in the United States.
“When we ordered, I didn’t anticipate this increase, so I ordered what I normally order,” Muller said. “I’ll run out eventually too. I’m talking with them, and they can do reorders, but they are short-staffed just like I am.”
Muller speaks highly of the value that gardening can bring to families, not just as a means of self-sufficiency, but also as a calming and even therapeutic process. The mantra of enjoying the fruits of your labor rings true even during a pandemic.
“It helps nurture you,” Muller said of the fundamentals of gardening. “There’s something nurturing about starting something from seed, watching it grow to maturity, cultivating it, and then getting to enjoy it.”