A WWII poster promoting Victory Gardens.
“Victory Gardens are back,” says Linda Gordon, sales coordinator for Lake Valley Seed, comparing the reaction to the coronavirus by gardeners to the gardens created during both great wars. “We can hardly keep up with the orders,” she added. Lake Valley is a wholesale company whose seeds can be found at garden centers and nurseries around the county. She was actually too busy to even be interviewed, just like every other seed company I contacted. Many were so slammed they were unable to respond.
Inconceivable amount of orders
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds was started in Jere Gettle’s bedroom when he was a teenager in 1998. Over the last two decades, he’s witnessed the trials and tribulations of growing his business into one of the biggest seed companies in the world. “Never seen anything like this in our life,” Gettle said via email. “Unbelievable volume of orders, many items have sold out. We are using next few days to regroup and try to get on top of the volume of things we got to catch up on.”
Jere Gettle and his family at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Back, Jere, Emily , front, Sasha, Ella, Malia and Cyan Gettle. Photo courtesy Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
The company has been hit so hard with orders, they posted this message on their website— “Due to an unprecedented increase in order volume our website and farm are temporarily closed to restock inventory and disinfect our workspace. We have scaled back our operations and staffing to ensure the health and well-being of our employees, our customers, and the community at large. We understand that during these trying times food security is more valuable than ever. Our remaining crew here on our Mansfield, Mo. farm is diligently working to deliver your orders and restock the shelves. We will be back online as soon as possible! If you have questions about your order email us at email@example.com. Thank you for your patience with us, and for the belief you share with us that gardening makes us all more human and more whole.”
At Renee’s Garden
, owner Renee Shephard is also astounded and the way things have unfolded at her business. “What we’re seeing is an overwhelming huge surge in orders but not just for vegetables. We’ve had our biggest days in history this week.”
Dagma Lacey and Gary Ibsen run TomatoFest, a company that offers 650 different heirloom tomatoes to gardeners. Most of the seeds they grow are donated to schools and others who need help.
Gary Ibsen owner of TomatoFest has seen increases sales too, especially during the last few days. “I’m sensing that there are many folks who are home in self-quarantine who are more than concerned about the virus and national economic crisis wanting to be assured they have sufficient seeds for current or future growing,” he says. “By having access to seeds for the future every gardener has access to food that might not be available otherwise.”
A seed company employee who wished to remain anonymous, echoed the same sentiments. “Seed orders are pouring in at a much higher than normal rate,” it’s insane, she said. “People are hunkering down and planning on focusing on their gardens in the coming months. It’s a good therapeutic outlet, for sure.”
This photo was on display at the Tower of London when Everybody Gardens editor Doug Oster visited. It showed a victory garden in the moat during WWII.
During WWI and WWII, families around the world started a movement to grow their own food at home and in public spaces as a way to support the war effort. In London the moat around the Tower of London was converted into a huge garden. They were combined with rationing to reduce the burden on the food supply. It was also a morale booster as gardeners felt good about helping fight the war from home.
If seeds can’t be found locally, they can be ordered online. Here’s the Ultimate Collection of Seed Sources according to Everybody Gardens readers.
Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at everybodygardens.com.
More from Everybody Gardens