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Gardening seeds, tools fly off shelves

Gardening seeds, tools fly off shelves

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ABINGDON, Va. — The pandemic is not only affecting food shortages. Garden seeds and supplies are flying off the shelves at local farm and hardware stores.

More green thumbs mean more gardens sprouting in the area.

Perhaps they need something to keep them busy while sheltering in place. But many people are growing a green thumb as a way of making sure their food is safe to eat and accessible, especially after panic-buying resulted in shortages in grocery stores.

Last week, Becky Kelly at Indoor Farms in Meadowview reported a large portion of her vegetable plants had already been sold. “A lot of customers started buying plants — flowers and vegetables — earlier than usual in April,” she said.

Tony Surber, owner of Surber & Son in Glade Spring, said he’s sold twice as many garden seeds this growing season. “Seed potatoes were hard to find this spring. Half-runner beans sold out quickly, too,” said Surber, who credits the seed shortages to a newfound interest in gardening locally and throughout the country.

“Sales have been great,” agreed Jared Haynes of Haynes Greenhouse in Chilhowie. “Sales of vegetable plants have increased this spring. And I’m meeting more customers who want to start raising their own food.”

Diane Rector, a teacher at Glade Spring Middle School, said she and her family think starting a garden is a good idea since she is home because of the pandemic. The last time the family had a garden was 29 years ago.

“It’s been a challenge getting groceries and especially fresh produce,” she said. “I knew that this would be a good way to get what we wanted and possibly have enough to share.

“We are a farming family, so we want to support our local producers.”

The family plans to grow potatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, corn, beans, cabbage, asparagus, squash and some herbs.

Ann Ledgerwood, a physical therapist for Smyth and Washington County Public Schools, also is home due to the pandemic and doing therapy visits through telehealth. “I have lots more time to garden now, plus we have the space,” she said. “It’s been more than 10 years since we cared for a garden.”

Monte and Vicky Ward will add gardening to their summer activities to help their food truck business, VickyMon’s Concessions, this summer. The Meadowview couple plan to raise several vegetables, some of which may be used to make the food they serve.

“With talks of meat shortages and prices skyrocketing, I figured it wouldn’t be long before vegetables become scarce,” said the husband.

“We plan on raising our own vegetables, canning and freezing what we can.”

Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at

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