Farmers try to keep up with demand for local produce

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OCEANSIDE, Calif. — As stay-at-home orders drag on in California, San Diegans are finding it more difficult to get their hands on local produce. But some small farmers, including a two-time Grammy Award winning artist, think they may have some solutions to “Remedy” the problem.

“The demand for me has at least tripled,” said Luke Girling, owner of Cyclops Farms in Oceanside.

Farmers say as the pandemic continues, they’ve adapted and adjusted by planting a surplus of vegetables that can grow at a quicker pace, but that takes time to grow.

“When I heard about this crisis, I started turning beds immediately, knowing we were going to have food situation,” Girling said. “I planted mixed greens, arugulas, and those are 30-40 day items.”

Girling said customers show up to his roadside stand Wednesdays and Saturdays. The lines have continued to grow over the past few weeks. He hopes the incoming additional supply can help meet the demands.

Meanwhile, across the county in Escondido, avocado farmer Jason Mraz says more people may look to their own backyards for their needs.

“There’s something that each one of us can do to supplement our own grocery bill whether it’s in a pot or in our backyard garden patch,” Mraz said.

Mraz, known for music hits like “I’m Yours” and “Lucky,” helps operate Mraz Family Farms in Oceanside which produces 60,000 pounds of avocados every year. Some go to local restaurants and to local grocer Cream of the Crop. He says they’re flooded with orders this past month as well but he says business isn’t booming.

“We don’t turn a profit, ever,” he said.

It’s more of a passion. In fact, he’s even written a song about farming: “Back to the Earth.”

He thinks the current shortages could have people turning to their own backyards.

“I think it could be a real reawakening in how we view agriculture,” Mraz said.  “I think there will be a lot of people planting their first gardens ever, which I think is a beautiful thing.”

FOX 5’s Jeff McAdam reached out to local plant nurseries Tuesday to see what trends they are seeing. Two nurseries confirmed Mraz’s hunch, reporting sales for fruit and vegetable plants and trees up 100% with tomatoes being the No. 1 seller.

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