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More edible gardens starting to sprout in our area
Experts say more are choosing to grow their own food
Randall Jones checks an okra plant at Full Bloom Nursery in Clermont. - photo by Tom Reed

This spring, people are planting more than just flowers in their gardens.

Many people are interested in starting their own fruit, herb and vegetable gardens, Hall County Extension Agent Billy Skaggs said.

“The last two years we have seen a tremendous increase in calls and requests here at the extension office from local residents who want to grow their own food,” Skaggs said. “People are more interested in doing that. I think the whole movement of buying local and keeping your dollars local contributes to that.”

Skaggs said people are also more concerned now about how their food is produced.

“There’s also a new slogan going around: ‘know your farmer, know your food,’” Skaggs said. “They want to grow as much as they can because they know where that food came from and they know how it was cared for. They don’t have to worry about it being treated with something that could be harmful to them.

“The general public is hungry for that information right now.”

Kellie Bowen, owner of Full Bloom Nursery in Clermont, said she has already run out of a number of vegetables at her business.

“Seed companies are running out of seeds, our wholesale providers are running out of certain types of vegetables and that is even with growing a larger crop trying to anticipate demand,” Bowen said.

Bowen first noticed the increased interest in vegetable gardening last spring.

“There was a big jump last year,” Bowen said. “Everybody wondered if it would do the same thing and it’s actually so far an even larger demand this year than last year.”

Bowen said vegetable gardening has also become more popular because of the recession.

“The cost of food has skyrocketed over the last few years,” Bowen said.

Regardless of the reasons people are interested, Bowen said she has enjoyed exposing people to the joy of vegetable gardening for the first time.

“Lots of people are first-time vegetable gardeners,” Bowen said.