County residents are investing in more homegrown fruits, vegetables, and chickens, according to three local business officials.
Jon Hefley of The Lumberyard in Hillsboro has noticed more people have started to grow potatoes, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and other common foodstuffs instead of purchasing them at grocery stores.
“Homegrown food just tastes so different,” Hefley said. “Prices are going up on a lot of groceries, and with the drop in beef prices, people are scared, too. There is a lot of uncertainty.”
The Lumberyard has stocked small chicken coops, some of which look like little red barns, to meet another trend Hefley has noticed.
“A lot of people are getting about four or five chickens,” he said. “Most aren’t trying to make a business of it. They just want their own eggs. Some people butcher them for broilers, too.”
He said homegrown chickens and eggs taste “incredibly different,” and raising them can provide a learning experience for families with children.
“We’ve got a coop at home,” he said. “I think keeping chickens helps teach kids responsibility.”
He said his 8-year-old daughter helps collect eggs, but she has not witnessed a chicken being butchered yet.
“She doesn’t mind getting blood on her, she’s been around when we butchered deer, but I told my wife I want to get a picture of our daughter’s eyes when we butcher the broilers,” he said. “That saying about running around like a chicken with its head cut off is true.”
Tom Koslowsky of Hillsboro True Value Hardware Store has also adjusted for the gardening trend by progressively stocking more standard bulk garden edibles over the last three years, he said.
“More people are gardening instead of buying food at the store,” he said. “People want to know where their food comes from. Some don’t want to consume food treated with certain pesticides.”
Dennis Krause, a manager at Marion County Ace Hardware, has noticed more people investing in gardens, too.
“We’re seeing a lot of younger people experimenting with gardens,” Krause said. “They’re buying fewer flowers. Most are going to edible plants.”
He said many have gone to potting soil or bucket gardens because of a lack of planting space. Some are experimenting with planting in straw bales, too.
“With the cattle market going down, people are being more conservative,” he said. “They’re buying timers for their sprinklers and investing in soil test kits to check how much nitrogen or phosphates their gardens need.”