Local produce in high demand since pandemic hit

When grocery store shelves become bare at times because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people start looking at local sources for their food supply.

Demand for locally grown food escalated as consumers began to worry that fresh vegetables and meat would become limited.

Bear Butte Gardens

Bear Butte Gardens, near Sturgis

People began looking at local sources for their food supply.

Michelle Grosek of Bear Butte Gardens says the demand has been a steady increase since she began working the soil, the last 10 years. But since the pandemic hit, the swell has been substantial. Bear Butte Gardens recently added a store front, where they also sell area producers products.

Michelle Grosek of Bear Butte Gardens

Michelle Grosek of Bear Butte Gardens

Grosek says, “There has been a big increase, especially this early spring when Coronavirus news really got out and grocery stores were having a hard time keeping up with some of the products.”

With the climb, Grosek says more people are asking questions about where their food store bought food is coming from and how it’s grown, saying, “They are getting a little more in touch with the seasonality of foods so that maybe they realize that sweet corn in Western SD is not going to be available in May, it might be at the grocery store, but it’s not going to be ready here until you know right now, late July or August.”

goats at Bear Butte Gardens

goats at Bear Butte Gardens

Bear Butte Gardens and the local producers say their community shared agriculture has doubled this year. CSA allows consumers to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms, directly.

Deidre Dealy, Owner of Tobias Garden, says, “I think there is more of an interest, we run a community supported agriculture program, a CSA, and we had such a high interest in it this year that we doubled our numbers from last year.”

Tobias Garden, produce

Tobias Garden, produce

Dealy notes that their season started slow because their wholesale accounts were lost because some restaurants were closed but now business is picking up.

She’s noticing a greater interest in local food systems, saying, “I think the pandemic has caused people to have to look at the supply chains and where their food comes from and think about food security.’

Deb Taylor, Deb's Downhome Delight

Deb Taylor, Deb’s Downhome Delight

The pandemic not only sparked interest in people of where their food comes from but maybe also starting a garden of their own.

Dealy says, “I’ve seen people having their own gardens this year and their own chickens and really trying to be a little more self sufficient too.”

Deb Taylor says long days are her new normal, since the pandemic — she’s been busier than normal.

Deb Taylor, Owner, Deb’s Downhome Delights, says, “I’m having a harder time this year of keeping up with demand — people want home grown — they want local. They ask me about my jams, do you make it yourself, they want to know where their product is coming from.”

Tobias Garden produce

Tobias Garden produce

Most producers agree that the high demand is a good problem to have, they are just putting in longer days or higher more help to keep up.

The Black Hills Farmer’s Market is open Wednesday and Friday 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News