Paris Farmers Union has seen a big increase in orders for Cornish Rock Broiler chicks. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

PARIS — The ripple effects of COVID-19 keep rolling. As the pandemic has affected food distribution and shut down some of the nation’s largest processors, consumers are responding by going the old-fashioned route – becoming subsistence farmers. And nowhere is that more evident than at local feed and farm supply stores.

“Last spring we sold about 2,500 chicks,” said store Manager Jenna Pare of the flagship Paris Farmer’s Union store. “This year it’s over 4,000. The biggest increases have definitely been in meat chickens and turkeys. And we’re seeing a lot of first-time customers.

“It’s not just poultry either. Over the spring season, I usually order garden seed three times. But so far I’ve placed orders six times.”

With so many newcomers to backyard farming, demand for supplies is way up too. Paris Farmers Union is having a hard time keeping the store stocked with feeders and waterers, fence wire and grain. Pare said that last week the company’s main supplier in Pennsylvania wasn’t able to ship everything she needed.

“They were only able to ship out goods that are kept under cover, feed, fertilizers and things like that,” Pare said. “We did not get anything that we stock outside. They couldn’t even touch them. So we are short on some of the things people need to set themselves up with their birds, like chicken wire.

“People are getting back to nature. They’re not in front of the TV. They’re getting outside. It’s been crazy, but I love the fact that this is going on.”

Layer chicks at Paris Farmers Union, ready to join backyard flocks throughout Oxford Hills. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Ameraucana layer chicks, a popular breed that provides green eggs. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat


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