FARMINGTON -- The number of families along the Wasatch Front who grow their own home gardens is on the rise.
"With the price of fuel and food, people are more interested in home gardening," said Britney Hunter, the newest Utah State University Horticulturist Extension Agent assigned to Davis County.
"There are a lot of home gardeners here," said Hunter, 26.
The local interest in home gardening can be credited to the county's family culture, Hunter said, and parents looking for ways to involve their children in a fun activity that supplements their food supply.
Hunter, assigned to the county in August, was introduced Tuesday to the Davis County Commission, which gave the professional plant grower two green thumbs up before taking advantage of her expertise to ask her their own personal home gardening questions.
Hunter, who graduated from USU with a master's degree in plant science, said her role with the county will be to troubleshoot for home gardeners. Residents in need of gardening help may contact the extension office in Room 200 at the county's Memorial Courthouse, 28 E. State St., in Farmington.
"My job is to provide public education in horticulture, landscaping and gardening," said Hunter.
That includes addressing garden pest problems, she said, and how to help the public keep their yards healthy.
"There are a lot of resources we have available to them," Hunter said.
And with the first frost imminent, Hunter said, many of the first calls could be from gardeners wanting to know how to best protect their plants from the cold.
The other question she anticipates getting will center around yellowing leaves, and what can be done to get the plant to pull more iron out of the soil.
"Iron tends to be unavailable to plants in Utah soils," she said.
Hunter has a great background and expertise in working with fruits and how to extend the season of a vegetable garden, said Shawn Olsen, USU Extension Services professor for agricultural programs in Davis County.
Olsen said there is a lot of interest and heritage in home gardening in Davis County.
"Davis County used to be called the garden spot," Olsen said.
As a resource at the USU Botanical Center in Kaysville, Hunter can provide plant diagnostic clinics, master gardening classes and work at the center to develop a children's garden.
In addition to having great soil and a good climate here, she said, there is a rich diversity of landscape.
Hunter, from Salt Lake City, said she got interested in becoming a horticulturist after working for private nurseries in the Salt Lake City area.
Prior to her new assignment, Hunter said, she was the manager of the Farmer's Market, held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays at the center gardens.
Hunter replaces former extension agent JayDee Gunnell, who took a position with agricultural extension services in Salt Lake City.