Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Products and supplies for home gardeners and urban farms are in demand.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, concerns about food security and limited activities attracted many Canadians to gardening and growing their own food. In March 2020, garden centers across Canada were preparing to open when lockdowns began. Many provinces designated garden centers as essential, allowing them to reopen with limited customer capacity. Garden centers also upped their online game, providing products for sale on their websites with delivery and curbside pickup. Garden centers and greenhouses are traditionally family-owned enterprises that are slower to pick up on technology, however, the pandemic has pushed most owners to integrate online strategies in order to continue to serve customers and grow their businesses. Statistics Canada’s August 2020 retail report noted many sectors with negative sales numbers due to lockdowns, but building and garden center revenues were up 4.5%.
A study conducted by Dalhousie University reported that 51% of respondents grew at least one variety of fruit or vegetable, and concluded that nearly one in five Canadians started growing food at home during the pandemic. The survey noted the reasons for growing food at home centered around concerns about access to food, rising costs of food, food shortages related to the pandemic, and for others, the opportunity to spend more time outside.
Demand for seeds, gardening tools and related equipment saw significant growth in 2020. Many seed suppliers ran out of stock in 2020 with some garden retailers also concerned about 2021 seed availability. In addition to home gardening, urban farming is also seeing an uptick of interest with 14 new urban farms, some on rooftops, opening in Quebec in 2021. Toronto and Vancouver are also centers of a growing urban farm movement.