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A Growing Demand for Gardening During the Pandemic

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 10:23 PM CDT
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RANDOLPH, Wis. (WMTV) - As the pandemic continues into its second spring, local garden centers prepare for another season of blooming sales.

Prior to 2020, Matt Berg from Madison didn’t have much of a green thumb.

“I tried growing tomatoes, but I just tried growing them out of pots and it didn’t work as well,” Berg said.

But when the pandemic had him working from home, his passion for planting really took root.

“Just something to do, you know working from home, wanting to get out, to just do something. It was kind of a break in the day to go check on the plants, give them a little water and just kind of watch them and monitor them more than I could before,” Berg said.

Jeanne Louther and her family built a raised garden for their home garden in Madison. It’s something she said she wouldn’t have done if she didn’t work from home.

“It’s something I would have talked about, thought about but I don’t know if I would have actually gone that whole way to build the raised bed and actually do the gardening,” Louther said.

Louther said she is experimenting with different seeds for her vegetable garden.

“Trying kale, chard and different types of heirloom tomatoes and just having fun with it,” Louther said.

She said even though she is now going back into the office and things are somewhat returning to normalcy, she won’t give up on gardening.

“Working in the dirt is good for depression, anxiety, it actually changes the way your brain works,” Louther said.

“In times of struggle, people tend to go back to the earth,” Jung’s Seed Company President Dick Zondag said.

Jung’s Seed Company is a family business that has been around since 1907. President Dick Zondag and Vice President Nathan Zondag are a father-son duo that have been digging in the dirt their entire lives.

“When he was down this high helping me push the seeder through the garden it’s just very nice, so we’ve got history of our family growing up,” Dick said about his son Nathan.

With such a long history, the company has seen many changes in the industry.

“When the economy is bad or when something like this happens, our business just mushrooms,” Dick Zondag said.

He said while sales have never been this high, they do see an upward trend in sales whenever the economy is down.

For example, he said in 2008 when the housing market collapsed, they saw a big boom in vegetable sales.

“The difference in what happened this time around is it wasn’t just the vegetable sales that went up, it was everything that went up,” Nathan said. “in one week, we were getting the same amount of sales we got the entire month of March.”

As sales continue to rise, the age of the average customer continues to fall.

“The customers that have started to create this big boom in our business are younger customers,” Nathan said. “People in their 20s and 30s, people who have families, want to know where their food is being grown, want to know what is being used with their food.”

Jeanne Louther said gardening has become something she can do with her family.

“Now my kid has gotten that appreciation from me and that’s something that we really enjoy doing together and we can now with COVID and being in a house together with all this time,” Louther said.

From the garden to the kitchen, Matt Berg is using gardening to teach his three-year-old son how to cook.

“Kind of teaching the little one that we’re eating things that we grow, it’s not just magically grown in a grocery store, that these are things that come from nature and here’s how that works.” Berg said. “There’s just such a dearth of things to do for little kids these days and this is such an easy one.”

Louther said her garden has become her place of meditation and Zen. Which is something landscaping businesses say is important to clients. Lisa Briggs from The Bruce Company said they have had one of their best years ever.

“People in their own homes that were having us do custom patios or landscape designs and putting them in and they wanted all of the arts to support that. Not just I have this space in my yard and want you to make it look pretty and I want it to be low maintenance, but we found that people are looking at spaces as a place that they can use, so an extension of their indoor activity they want to bring that outdoors,” Briggs said.

Whether its planting flowers, growing food, or landscaping a back yard, the interest in gardening is growing.

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