RODMAN — All nine hardware stores Stephen Winkler contacted recently were sold out of chicken wire, highlighting the evolution of local food production and increasing demand for homegrown gardens and poultry development.
Last week, Mr. Winkler, owner of Lucki 7 Livestock Co. in Rodman, went to OD Greene Ace Home Center in Adams for a routine pickup of chicken wire. When everything was sold out there, he went on to five Tractor Supply stores in the area. After that, he called three more. They were all sold out. He was frustrated that such a menial item wasn’t available, but he was more excited about what this means.
“If you want to find a barometer of whether local food is succeeding, this is it,” Mr. Winkler said. “This is the underlying story. It’s bizarre.”
Beth Williams has been the store manager of Ace in Adams for just over 21 years. She has never seen the recent demand for poultry netting, garden protection or yard fencing. The amount of fencing and soil-related items the store stocked when the weather got warmer probably should have lasted through the summer, she said.
“But now we are completely wiped out of fencing of any kind,” Ms. Williams said. “And our greenhouse is completely wiped out of vegetables. I have never seen it that empty.”
Ms. Williams said people have been stuck at home and cognizant of an uneasy food cycle among meat and dairy products, resulting in them taking matters into their own hands.
“They don’t have anything else to do, so they’re focusing on their property,” Ms. Williams said. “It comes back to people want to be able to provide themselves with food without going to the grocery store. They don’t want to go out in public. They want to make sure they have something for their family.”
As a result, the store is also low on patio furniture, weed killer and anything related to lawns and gardens. And she’s seeing more new faces, either there to start planting in their new gardens or there to start their chicken production for the first time.
“The demand is much higher in a shorter amount of time,” Ms. Williams said. “It has just been crazy.”
It wasn’t always this busy. Midway through March was a scary time as the store was sitting on a summer’s worth of merchandise and the economy was closing.
“Nobody is going to spend their money on it,” Ms. Williams remembers thinking. “And then all of a sudden, that’s what everybody wanted.”