Fresh Food Finds in the Garden Center
Does your garden center offer fresh produce by way of a farmers’ market or community supported agriculture (CSA) program, or are you considering offering one? We reached out to our readers to see if they have a farmers’ market on site or offer boxed produce — here’s what they had to say.
Of the IGCs who offer a farmers’ market, 40% said they’ve offered one for more than 11 years. But it’s not too late to get in the game — just over one-quarter of respondents (27%) have started one within the last two years.
Of the fresh produce sold in garden centers, apples, peaches, berries and pumpkin/squash were most commonly sold. Other answers we received included “Everything from asparagus to zucchini” and “winter squash and lettuce bowls.”
Looking to the future, most garden centers cited tomatoes and tomato plants as their predicted 2022 best sellers. A few other notable answers were candy, snacks, barbecue sauce and Satsuma mandarins.
New in ‘22
What’s new for 2022? When it comes to edible offerings in the garden center, many like to embrace change. “We change up varieties of our edibles every year,” one IGC reported. Another said that they’ll stock “Any new items my growers have available.”
“[We] just recently added pastured meats plus goat cheeses and yogurts,” was another response.
While a few IGCs answered that they hadn’t made up their minds yet, others said they plan to offer new items including pawpaws, elderberries, “some exotic fruits (figs shrubs, jujube trees),” kitchen-counter friendly tomato and pepper plants, kiwifruit, radishes, ginger and fresh beef.
National Garden Bureau declared 2022 the “Year of” Salad Greens in the edibles category, so we were curious how many garden centers will make salad greens part of their year as well. Nearly two-thirds (64%) said they will. “We sell as many as we can grow,” one garden center responded. Another said they “always do.” Two IGCs pointed out that they only sell it in seed form or only in plant form, as that’s how it sells the best for them.