As people look for more activities to do at home, gardening stands out as a hobby and skill that creates tangible, self-reliant results.

In fact, so many first-time buyers were making purchases and so many long-time buyers were making larger purchases, that The Garden Center Group, a trade association of independent garden retailers, reported group year-to-date sales were up 28.8% as of May, with average sales up 14.3% and transaction numbers up 14.9%.

At A2Z Grow Supplies in Portland, cashier and manager Sam Woodman saw the national trends play out locally, but with a twist that can only happen in ten other states.

“The two biggest things I’ve heard in passing from people trying gardening for the first time,” said Woodman, “is a pretty good split between vegetables and cannabis.”

In Maine, adults can grow up to three flowering cannabis plants for recreational purposes. Woodman has been working at A2Z Grow Supplies for about eight years. He says he saw a slight uptick in cannabis growing customers when the state legalized recreational grows, seeing first-time customers who are “people in their 50s and 60s, people who had lived with cannabis always being illegal, getting more interested.”

Jeff Sloat is an assistant manager at High Wire Hydroponics in Raymond, which markets themselves to cannabis home growers, recreational and medical. With the pandemic-induced new interest in gardening, plus the cultural shift around cannabis legalization, Sloat said 2020 has been their best financial year since they opened six years ago.

“I think a lot more people are having the tomato garden next to the medical grow,” he said about this summer’s outdoor growing customers. When it comes to indoor growing, budgets have increased because there is no more need to hide in a small space. People are now using their garage, or “growrage,” for all of their crops. . Between internet enabled lights, ventilation and heating systems, people are spending at least $1,000 to start up a “small” operation.

Unsurprisingly, Sloat also endorsed buying local for people interested in growing cannabis for the first time. He emphasized the expertise and time available to customers at small, specialized operations.

Still, the majority of A2Z and High Wire’s business is coming from small time caregivers in the medical industry, who have seen an increase in business themselves over the last couple of months. Sales have slowed as the season enters a vegetative state, but Woodman is expecting another uptick as harvest time arrives and caregivers purchase new processing equipment.