Emptier grocery cabinets domesticate spike in dwelling gardening


Jameson Altott has tried for years to lead a self-sustaining lifestyle to give back to nature as much as he needs. Part of that meant growing as much of your own food as possible.

After graduating from college, he worked on an organic farm in Natrona Heights, western Pennsylvania, learning how to grow vegetables, care for animals, operate a tractor, and make soap and beer.

He now has his own home improvement store, but he and his partner grow and store a ton of foods from their garden: tomatoes, potatoes, radishes, carrots, beans, berries and so on. They also have chickens for eggs. Altott estimates they grow 60% of the food that feeds their family of four and only go to stores once a month to buy bulk items like rice, flour, oats, and milk.

(Courtesy Soul Fire Farm)

“We are lucky to have preserved a lot of food. We still have canned fruits and vegetables and jams and berries in the freezer and meat in the freezer, just like we do, ”Altott said this week. “That makes us feel good, we don’t have to go to the supermarket to buy a lot of vegetables.”

“We even have cloth diapers for our baby with toilet paper. I installed a sprayer for our toilet. When we run out of toilet paper, we have funds. “

Interest in growing your own food is increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Oregon State University’s Master Gardener program noticed this and made its online vegetable gardening course free by the end of April. His post on Facebook has been shared more than 21,000 times.

“We’re inundated with vegetable orders,” said George Ball, executive chairman of Burpee, the seed giant based in Warminster, Bucks County. “We’re getting a lot of interest … like a tsunami.”

Ball said he noticed spikes in seed sales during bad times – the 1987 stock market crash, the 2000 dot-com bubble – and remembered the two 1970s oil crises since childhood. But he said he hadn’t seen a tip that big and widespread.

The gardening business has increased in bad times and decreased in good times, Ball said, but that has become even more extreme over the past 20 years.

“It has to be really bad to grow,” he said. “Or it has to be really good … to substantially refuse.”

The company is doing its best to keep up with orders, Ball said, but it just can’t make any more products.

“It’s not something you just do with the push of a button. … I cannot exaggerate this enough, our business is based on biology. “

Chloe Francis has always loved growing her own food. She is a senior college student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and has grown tomatoes, peppers, rosemary, and spring onions on the little porch next to her apartment.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that you can grow pretty much anywhere as long as you have dirt and a container,” said Francis. “It feels daunting to some people to start a garden like Capital G’s garden, but it’s not too complicated and it feels good to grow your own food and have enough to share for other people.”

(Courtesy Soul Fire Farm)