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Montanans Find Escape In New Hobbies During COVID

A photo of a potato plant taken on May 2, 2011.
Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Potato Plant

Interest in hobbies has skyrocketed as many people forced to stay at home have found things to keep them busy. An increased interest in gardening, baking and crafting has caught many Montana suppliers busy.

Kris Fitzgerald has a catchy way of describing a popular gardening supply.

“Seed potatoes are the toilet paper of the gardening world,” Fitzgerald said.

The owner of Wood Rose Market in Livingston says demand for seed potatoes caught her by surprise.

“I ordered five times the pounds I normally do. Just got them in bigger, got them in 50 pound cases. They’re cheap so I just wanted extra so I didn’t run out. And we sold out in two weeks and normally it takes us a month to sell them,” Fitzgerald said.

She says she did not expect this kind of interest this season, that people may not have the funds to spend on gardening. But when the greenhouse was back open, people were waiting at the doors to get something to grow.

Demand at nurseries across the state is high and the suppliers to Fitzgerald’s nursery and others across Montana are hard pressed to completely fill orders for seed potatoes, seeds, plants and even terra cotta pots.

Suppliers for other pastime activities are just as busy.

Wheat Montana thought demand for their flour in grocery stores was just panicked buying but Wheat Montana Customer Service Manager Amy Danielson says demand is still high.

“We’ve had to temporarily postpone our whole wheat flour production just to keep up with our white flour demand,” Danielson said.

Danielson says they hope as weather gets warmer and people venture outside, baking might decline enough to start up the whole wheat line.

Cake decorating supplies have seen a spike in demand says a manager at Michaels Arts and Crafts supply store in Billings. Also popular are painting, sketching and other artists’ supplies as well as crafting kits for kids.

Kris Fitzgerald with Wood Rose Market said she was unsure what to expect going into this season, but she says one of the things you can control is growing your own food.


Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.