Pandemic shortages mean Upper Valley farmers have a need for seeds

Farmers are reporting that they have taken to ordering their winter shipments from seed companies weeks or months earlier than usual to ensure delivery in time for seeding in greenhouses in March.

“I had all my orders for seeds in before Christmas. Normally I’d be looking at mid-January. I had a hunch thing could get tight this year,” said Taylor Henry, who oversees the cultivation of more than 20 acres of crops as production manager at Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford. “Even some varieties of tomatoes are in short supply.”

Farmers say navigating the supply of seeds is just another curveball thrown by the yearlong COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced them to adjust everything from how they get produce into customers’ hands at farmers markets or through CSAs to opening farm stands and online ordering platforms.

One farmer explained how she saw one variety of seeds disappear — literally — right before her eyes while she was placing an order online.

The delays are “not so much because there is a lack of seeds as much as we don’t have the physical capacity to process all the orders coming,” said Nikos Kavanya, a purchaser at Fedco. “Demand went through the roof last spring and then went up exponentially in the fall. Everything bottlenecks because there are too many orders coming in.”

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