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Colorado consumers turning to homegrown food

Pamela Dickman
Loveland Reporter-Herald

LOVELAND, Colo. (AP) ” Jim Dubois’ family has been in the garden business in Loveland since 1950. He saw gardening’s popularity rise when the economy sank in the 1970s and again in the 1980s.

This year, in the middle of a deep recession, Dubois, the owner of Gateway Garden and Home Center, expects once again to sell more vegetable seeds and starter plants, following a national trend.

He already has reordered seeds three times and has grown more varieties and volumes of starter plants in-house.



“I think there is kind of a resurgence of people wanting to feel like they are more self-sufficient,” added Harry Love, a master gardener with Larimer County Cooperative Extension.

“A lot of people are sensitive to the need to grow things themselves, use their own resources and cut down on the energy that is used to produce and ship food.”

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Many people grow their own food to save money ” a trend confirmed by Dubois and Burpee, the nation’s largest seed company.

The company contends its seed sales increased 20 percent in January and 30 percent in the last week of March because people are trying to save money during the recession.

“For every $50 you spend on gardening, you can harvest over $1,250 worth of vegetables,” added Kristin Grilli, the seed company’s spokeswoman.



Those numbers, she said, are from a 10-year, in-house cost study analysis.

Seed sales are up about 25 percent, and sales of planting trays and domes are up 50 percent at Loveland Garden Center, said owner Debbie Weakland. She, too, has grown more ” probably twice as many ” starter vegetable plants, expecting a greater demand this year.

“It may have to do with health and all the salmonella and not knowing where your stuff is coming from,” she said.

“That, and it’s a fairly inexpensive hobby.”

The recession, too, is driving more people to stay home evenings, weekends and vacations, added Dubois. They may spend that time on gardening.

All of those reasons ” saving money in a recession and reaping safer, tastier foods ” were mentioned in a survey and study by the National Gardening Association, as reported on its Web site.

For those reasons, the association expects gardening to increase 19 percent this year.

Even the first family, the Obamas, planted a vegetable garden at the White House, pointed out Allison Stoven, horticulture agent with Larimer County Cooperative Extension.

She added, “It’s almost like a move back to the victory gardens.”


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