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The COVID Gardening Renaissance Depends on Seeds—if You Can Find Them

Demand for seeds is sky high once again. Many say that signals a longer-term shift towards growing food at home.

Annastasia Mullen has been expanding her home garden in Des Moines, Iowa, since 2015. After starting with three raised beds in her backyard, she rented three more in a community garden nearby and started planting flowers in addition to produce like tomatoes, peppers, leafy greens, and root vegetables.

When COVID-19 caused food system disruptions last spring, Mullen felt driven to grow more food than ever before and share it with her neighbors. “In a small way, it was something I could do to contribute at a time when a lot of things were feeling uncertain,” she said.

But she was shocked to find some of the seed companies she regularly ordered from had shut down ordering, and others had long shipping times. One order she placed at the end of February, for row cover to protect tiny pea plants from squirrels, took six weeks to arrive. By then, it was too late.