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Business booming at Lake Tahoe nurseries

Sunbasin Nursery on Kingsbury is seeing an increased amount of customers this year.
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The coronavirus forced many people to stay home in the early months of spring. While the quarantine brought much worry and uncertainty, it also opened the door for many to reconnect with activities around their homes.

Nurseries around the basin have seen an increase of people wanting to get outside and work on their homes with gardening and landscaping projects.

Nurseries are seeing a substantially busier spring than previous years.

Sunbasin Landscape and Nursery opened May 1. They have seen a major boom in business since day one of opening for the season.

“This May has been the best month of May we’ve had,” said Tom Bork of Sunbasin located on Kingsbury.

Bork said they have had people calling since back in April seeing if they were open. He said that he believes one of the reasons why there has been such an increase of business is from people being cooped up at home during quarantine.

Bork said it’s usually a slower opening in May until memorial day when business really ramps up. This year, that boom started early.

Sunbasin has been selling a ton of topsoil, compost, vegetables, herbs, and Bork said that annual flowers like petunias have been really popular.

Bork also explained another reason for the boom in business.

Second homeowners came to Tahoe during quarantine and decided to landscape the homes that are typically just used for vacation.

“In the past, they wouldn’t bother with it,” he said.

Since the coronavirus, there seems to be an increase in people wanting to grow their own food for food security. Bork said this year they’ve had a spike in the amount of vegetable plants they are selling.

“We are a small nursery and we don’t usually sell a ton of vegetables,” he said.

This season they are trying to get as many vegetable plants and herbs as they can in stock.

While Sunbasin didn’t open until the beginning of May, they were still considered an essential business.

They still have their normal summer hours and have social-distancing guidelines posted throughout the nursery. Sunbasin is also offering curbside pickup or delivery to their customers.

Employees from Aspen Hollow and Tahoe Outdoor Living also both said that the nurseries have been substantially busier than usual for spring.

Alison Toy, Program Manager for UC Davis Tahoe Center for Environmental Science is also the Manager of the North Tahoe Demonstration Garden and the Tahoe City Demonstration Garden.

This educational community garden has been around for more than 25 years offering community classes on native plants, defensible-space, lake-friendly landscaping and more. Due to the coronavirus, this year’s vegetable growing workshops went virtual.

“There was an overwhelming response for interest in our garden workshops,” said Toy in an email.

They had their last official workshop last week but have been talking about scheduling a few more during the summer.

“So between YouTube views and actual live participants we had about 2,000 participants, which is close to 4-5 times the traditional number of participants,” Toy said.

Toy said that she did believe a portion of the people were joining due to concerns around COVID-19 but a majority were looking to get outdoors.

“People were looking for ways to be productive and enjoy being outside without having to expose themselves to the influx of people still coming to Tahoe,” said Toy. “In general, I think more people just had extra time on their hands and the Tahoe-Truckee community is one that appreciates the environment and has a great love for the outdoors and this was a great opportunity to do lake-friendly gardening practices.”

Toy said there were times that she was personally surprised to see the lack of produce at grocery stores in the midst of the crisis.

“While I grow veggies regularly,” she said, “I can imagine the idea of food security could have played a role.”


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