How the pandemic and gardening startups fed our home-grown cravings

My plant obsession began early last year when I broke my leg just one week before the US descended into COVID-19 lockdown. Stuck at home with a 4-year-old whose Seattle preschool had closed, I bought a lemon tree that we could tend together -- something to keep us occupied and out in the sunshine. By the time we heard of one of the first American COVID-19 deaths, in the hospital where my son was born, our garden grew with a crop of Yukon gold potatoes in a planter box. 

By summer, just before another leg surgery, I'd peppered the yard with tomato plants, knockout roses and a 100-foot lilac hedge. And today after 17 months at home, my garden has grown to include basil, rosemary, chives, lavender, mint, oregano, hens and chicks, blueberry and butterfly bushes, hydrangeas, gardenias and five apple trees. "You have a problem," my husband Dave muttered the other day as he lugged the garden hose across the yard under the August sun. 

But my problem was born out of necessity. When the pandemic hit, most of us watched as supply chain shortages -- including imports that account for 15% of US food consumption -- emptied grocery store shelves for the first time. Faced with such unprecedented stress, it's no surprise that just over one in four Americans began growing food at home, according to a Packaged Facts National Online Consumer survey. These novice gardeners said their worries about the future, including food shortages, hunger and inability to go to the grocery store, were the main reasons for their newfound self-sufficiency. Locally grown meant more than just being within driving distance; it meant being in your backyard.

Read more at cnet.com


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