With so many working at home, or not working at all, during the COVID-19 pandemic, people have a lot more free time than usual.
Lots of people have decided to take on home projects, and gardening is one of the more popular ones.
With a stretch of beautiful weather last week and people looking to keep busy, Oaklawn Garden Center and Nature Gift Shop in Brighton has been extremely busy.
While mulch and flowers have been big sellers, as they always are when the weather warms up, edible plants are in even higher demand.
“We’re growing more vegetables than we ever have,” said Wendi Hill, who owns Oaklawn with her husband Jonathan. “We can’t keep vegetables in here.”
Tomatoes, peppers, squash, cantaloupe, watermelons, cucumbers and berry bushes and trees are being purchased at a very high rate.
“I think people are going stir crazy and want to get out of the house,” Hill said. “They’re like, ‘We can plant a garden now.’”
While free time is certainly a big reason why people are starting gardens, there’s a practical reason as well.
“I think people are wanting to have their own food accessible at home,” Hill said. “They want to be able to can or freeze and not worry about running out if things if this happens again.”
Customers are flocking to places like Oaklawn, but Hill said precautions are being taken to keep everyone safe. Oaklawn employees who come into contact with customers are wearing masks and only one customer at a time is allowed to be in the indoor section of the business. There are signs posted asking everybody to stay at least six feet apart and there is a new exit door to help keep people separated.
“It’s amazing how everyone has been cooperative about it,” Hill said. “Nobody’s mad, nobody’s fighting over vegetables like you hear people doing over toilet paper. It’s really working out and my employees have been fabulous. We’re very blessed to have the business that we’ve had. We could have easily been non-essential and I feel really bad for all the people who had to shut down.”
Hill, like everybody else, is looking forward to the day when things get back to normal.
“I’m ready for this to be over,” she said. “I hope and pray that everyone can be safe. It’s a scary thing and I think a lot of people aren’t taking it seriously. It’s very serious.”