RENO — When grocery stores started running out of eggs, some savvy shoppers knew where to look — their local farm stand.
“I’m having more people show up wanting eggs,” said Josh Renner, owner of Renner Farm in Smith Valley. He sells his eggs at a small kiosk on his family’s 100-year-old ranch. “Our eggs are completely sold out every day within hours of me putting them down there.”
Renner said his 200 hens produce about eight dozen eggs in late winter and early spring, and usually, he has a surplus.
“This time of year, usually I’d have a massive stockpile of roughly 30 dozen or so,” he said. “This is definitely a difference for us.”
For years his eggs sold for $3.50 per dozen. As he started selling out quickly, he increased the price to $5 per dozen, and “nobody batted an eye.” Two days later, feeling bad, he dropped the price down to $4 per dozen.
Dayton grower Rob Holley, of Holley Family Farms, said the moment stores started clearing out his supply also went bare.
“Any inventory we had of meat, whether pork or beef, it’s gone,” he told the Mason Valley News. A Reno retailer, short on meat, purchased the bulk of it, he said. “We’ve had numerous calls we’ve had to refer elsewhere.”
Holley sells meat and produce, with the bulk of the produce sold at area farmer’s markets.
“The market may or may not be as busy as it has been in past years,” he said. “We’re definitely spending some energy talking about different marketing avenues.”
He said he’s also seen a decrease in product availability and delays in shipping.
“This is the time of year we’re getting ready to plant, but some of our large suppliers, they’re doors are closed right now, so they aren’t shipping,” he said. “The pressure on the shipping, whether it’s through FedEx, UPS or the post office, to more vital things related to the coronavirus, the shipping for seed and supplies is actually starting to become delayed. It does have an effect. So far we’ve been able to work around them.”
Nancy Ogan, owner of Ogan Family Farm in Topaz Ranch Estates, has also seen an uptick in sales. Her farm produces eggs, honey, produce and cut flowers, and she has seen an increase in requests for eggs since the coronavirus scare started.
She recently increased the number of chickens she keeps from 50 to 90.
“I had such a call for eggs,” she said.
She also processes meat birds for sale and offers chicken-harvesting classes, but she isn’t sure how edicts against crowd gatherings will impact those activities.
“All my processing is done outside,” Ogan said. “I have six people in my family. To have another family come out (to help process) – I don’t know if that’s appropriate now.”
Ogan said she has also fielded calls from people asking how to start their own gardens, something she doesn’t normally receive.
“I’m assuming because everyone has gotten on a kick of self-sufficiency,” she said. “After everything in the stores being emptied out, maybe they can start those gardens. And they’re home now, they have a little more time. Coronarvirus added two things – people being more self-sufficient and they ’re spending more time at home.”