Many people are raising their own food to save

Unfazed by losing her vegetable crop to a freeze last year, Debbie McNeill is more than just gearing up.

The 49-year-old Haslet housewife is upping the stakes, putting down twice as many tomato, onion and jalapeño plants in a 15-by-15-foot raised garden at her mother’s home "because it’s fun and because of the economy."

McNeill is not alone.

From seed producers and greenhouse growers to retailers, all are reporting booming sales. All attribute it largely to family financial issues.

"This happens every time we have a downturn in the economy," said Rick Archie, the third-generation owner of Archie’s Gardenland on the west side of Fort Worth, founded during in 1934. He estimates that vegetable plant sales have increased 20 to 25 percent so far this year.

At Russell Feed in Haltom City, manager Carl Cathey reports that his vegetable plant sales have soared 50 to 60 percent this year.

"Of course, a lot of it are replacements for people who got frosted out and came back for more," Cathey conceded. "But all in all, people seem just hungry to grow vegetables. Seeds are just now starting to move, but they’re up about 20 percent in the last couple of weeks."

Seed companies recognized the market demand.