Since Belfast resident Elsa Mead started her "victory garden" over two months ago, she said she has noticed more raised bed gardens in people’s yards. The coronavirus has given people more time for gardening and provided local garden and hardware centers a business boost.

Victory gardens are rooted in World Wars I and II, when people started growing their own food to supplement the nation’s limited food supply and to lift people’s spirits during a time of uncertainty and economic hardship.

“It’s something to look forward, to have something beautiful to look at, to be involved with growing food, be able to share our harvest. That’s why we call it a victory garden,” Mead said.

She said she is not traditionally a gardener, but when her daughter, Stephanie Mead, and her boyfriend, Erich Winzer, came for a visit right before a coronavirus outbreak around their New York City neighborhood, the two decided to wait out the pandemic in Maine and spend their time planting a garden with Mead.

Stephanie and Winzer have an urban garden on the rooftop of their apartment building, where they grow much of their own food, they said. The couple had been looking for properties in upstate New York to have a little farm and workshop for their work of building sets and props for theaters and TV shows like "Sesame Street," Stephanie said.

The couple’s neighbors have been looking after their apartment and rooftop garden. Stephanie said they probably will not return to New York until after the harvest later this summer or in the fall.

Since planting several garden beds of flowers, vegetables and fruit, Mead said her neighbors have noticed and even given her some plants for the garden or have started gardens of their own. “It has brought us happiness during these difficult times,” she said.

Andrew Cayer, who works at Aubuchon Hardware in Belfast, said the store is experiencing an increase in business compared to last year. He said usually at this time of year business is slowing down, but people buying garden supplies have kept a steady stream of customers returning to the store.

“Everything is exaggerated this year from what we normally do,” he said.

Caver started noticing an uptick in garden sales when the seed rack and seedlings in the greenhouse began selling fast. He said he thinks people believe it will help them in the long term if they grow their own food, rather than relying solely on food from the grocery store.

He predicted that increased sales would continue into the summer as people need more supplies to maintain their gardens.

Hammond Lumber Manager Jim Pooler said his store has also seen an increase in gardening sales. He said it’s the only Hammond Lumber store that sells plants and it has been selling more than usual.

Mead said she hopes to be able to share what she grows with her neighbors, as she thinks there will be too much just for her. But she said she will continue to garden even after the coronavirus shutdown ends.

Mead, who works as a counselor, said she feels like she is finally doing what she tells her clients to do: relaxing. Her next project is to create a sitting area with a fire pit down the hill below the garden.