Green-thumbed Northlanders have turned to their vegetable patches in a push to become more self-sustainable in uncertain times.
It's not just masses of toilet paper, hand sanitiser and flour that residents have been bulk-buying as the Covid-19 crisis unfolds – large amounts of potting mix, vegetable seedlings and compost have all been snapped up since the lockdown was announced in March.
Kericell Nursery, a wholesale nursery in Kerikeri, said it's seen an 80 per cent hike in demand for vegetable seedlings from the 85 garden centres it supplies throughout the North Island.
General manager Sandy Johnson said demand for orders soared just before the Government announced on March 23 the country would move into alert level 3 followed 48 hours later into complete lockdown.
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"From the moment we went to level 3 it increased, and before we went to level 4 it became a panic," she said.
"We couldn't keep up with demand. No one planned for Covid-19 so we did what we could."
Johnson said the family-owned company has also been busy with the move back down to level 3.
"It's picked up again, but we could prepare for that. It's nice to see a real return to growing our own veggies and knowing where our food comes from and a having a supply you can control.
"It's a positive thing for the whole industry."
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Onerahi Hammer Hardware owners Jo and Kevin Dean said residents started "massively" buying up huge amounts of compost, potting mix, sheep pellets and vegetable seedlings pre-lockdown.
The couple, who bought the store a year ago, sold 17 tonnes of various garden mixes within two to three days, and where they'd usually be ordering 50 trays a week, they were now ordering 150-200 trays a week.
"It's been madness," Jo said.
"Seeds have become the new currency. We've been overwhelmed but it's been great to get that local support.
"As a smaller store people have been appreciating having someone to talk to and we're having to give advice as some have never grown anything before."
However, the country's coronavirus restrictions haven't benefited everyone in the industry.
Last month the Northern Advocate reported many vegetable and fruit growers were forced to throw out tens of thousands of dollars of food crops, with only supermarkets and dairies deemed essential food services.
The Whangārei Growers' Market hasn't been open since March 22.
Market co-founder Murray Burns said growers have had to adjust, with some selling in and around their local area via deliveries, and others getting together to do box deliveries.
"Some have said 'I'm going to stop growing till the market starts again'," he said.
Burns, from Kauri, was doing fortnightly deliveries during the lockdown and moved to contactless ordering and pick-ups at level 3, which meant people could visit his farm.
"Customers email us and we make the orders up on Thursday and Friday and customers can pick them up at the gate on Saturdays.
"The regular market goers have been regular visitors to the farm," he said.
"We're really pleased Whangārei people are getting in and supporting local growers, it's been great."
Northland Inc is working to connect food banks with growers who have fresh produce available but are finding it difficult to sell because their markets are temporarily closed.
The Food Rescue web page has been created for food banks, food rescue and iwi organisations. They can apply for Government funding to buy fresh produce for vulnerable people.
"We've been able to help solve two problems by connecting funding to Northland growers," spokeswoman Justine Stuart said.
"A huge number of applications were received just days after the fund was made available and it was estimated about $1m would be distributed in the Northland region.
"By providing a link to this contact list, the organisations will have a quick reference for where to get certain produce direct from our local growers."
Meanwhile, demand for native plants has also been going well.
Kerikeri Plant Production owner Julia Colgan said they've been taking lots of online and phone orders under level 3, and plants were being placed outside the gate at a prearranged time.
"One week into it and it's going really well," she said.
"The team are working in two different bubbles making sure we keep a safe distance apart.
"We've got an alternative area set up for lunch breaks, staff are wearing masks and gloves, and we're track and tracing customers."
Colgan said she missed the contact with her customers and was looking forward to more normality.
"The biggest frustration is not being able to walk around with people and help them choose plants; I'm looking forward to having people through the gate again."