Outdoor farmers markets are a sure sign that summer has finally arrived, and you won’t have to wait much longer to enjoy the bounty of the season at Plymouth’s Farmers Market. Vendors across the area are getting ready, including Gregor Farm and Greenhouse, which is located right off of Highway 55 in Medina. They offer customers everything from fresh heirloom tomatoes to beautiful hanging flower baskets. Although they’re busy any given day during the year, June through August is their peak, and they have to work hard all season long to keep up.
“I always like to say that we’re in Plymouth’s backyard, so it’s just like going to your garden when you buy from us—we’re that close,” says Patty Gregor, who owns and runs the operation with her husband, Tom. Started in 1976 by Tom’s parents, Rex and Arlene, it began simply as a hobby, but has drastically expanded within recent years.
Now a full-time farming operation, it boasts 25,000 square feet of heated greenhouses, 5,000 in cold frames and 25,000 in combined outdoor and retail space. But, despite the growth, it remains a family affair. Each of Tom and Patty’s four children helped out on the farm growing up. Their son Ryan now works as their full-time operations manager, and the cheery sign welcoming visitors to the farm was hand-painted by their daughter, Rachel.
That family touch is what helps makes Gregor Farm and Greenhouse so special. “You’re not going to find a whole lot of our sized operations around. We’re a mom-and pop-type of place” says Patty, also adding that a visit to their farm makes for a fun and family-friendly activity. “We brought up four children here and I now have three grandsons that come and visit frequently.
I think that the environment is very healthy, [a place] where you and your whole family can feel comfortable.”
Successfully running a farm and a greenhouse is no easy task. “Much like any other small, family-owned business, it’s 24/7, 365 days a year,” Ryan says. Whether it’s mums in the fall or poinsettias and Christmas trees in the winter, the Gregors have plenty to keep them busy year-round, but with so many crops ripe and ready in the warmer months, summer is definitely their busiest season. Each year they welcome it with open arms with the anticipation of a lot of hard work. Starting in mid-March, when they bring in their seasonal employees— or their perennial staff, as Patty likes to say—all the way to mid-October, they keep busy, and weekly visits to the local farmers markets are, of course, on their summer to-do list.
The Plymouth Farmers Market is held on Wednesday afternoons, but the team at Gregor Farm and Greenhouse typically begins prepping for it well in advance. “We usually start the night before with harvesting,” Ryan says. Tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage and beets are seasonal favorites and big sellers, so they always make sure to have plenty of each available. The next morning, they typically wrap up any harvesting, load up the truck and then they’re off. Thanks to their proximity to Plymouth, it never takes too long to get fresh produce off the farm and to the market. “Within the hour, it’s there and all set up,” says Ryan, who also serves as what Patty and Tom call “the face” at markets, there to assist customers with purchases and answer any and all questions they might have. At 6:30, after the farmers market closes, they load the truck back up, head back to the farm to store unsold produce away properly (although they never have too much left over) and wrap up the day by 8—ready to do it all again the next week.
The Gregors say they love the community that springs up from Plymouth’s farmers market and the chance to not only see familiar faces each year, but also get to know new ones. “We get a lot of really pleasant customers,” Ryan says.
Because the Plymouth market is grower-based, you can rest assured that any produce you purchase there is locally grown and produced. Although it might mean that some prices are slightly higher than those at your local grocery store, the difference in quality is worth it. “People sometimes think that locally grown should be cheaper, but we’re not competing with Cub’s specials or anything like that,” Patty says. “My fingernails are dirty for a reason! We grow it all ourselves.”
Organic produce and sustainably grown plants are top priorities at Gregor Farm and Greenhouse. From their plant material to their pest management, they ensure that their practices honor the earth and the natural environment. “You’re not going to walk in here and see a bank of chemicals for eradicating every living thing that might come across your yard,” says Patty. She encourages customers to ask whatever questions they might have about how they grow or treat their crops. “I don’t know if you can walk into one of the big box stores and ask them, ‘What have you used on your plants? What have you used on your produce and vegetables?’ [But] we know exactly what’s in all of our crops.”
Outside of the Plymouth Farmers Market, the Gregors certainly have a lot to do. On weekends, they head into the city for the Minneapolis Farmers Market, and the rest of the week, they stay busy maintaining the crops and keeping the business running smoothly.
Above all, the Gregors love what they do, and given their loyal customer base, it’s clear that they’re good at it. In addition to swinging by the Plymouth Farmers Market, Patty encourages market-goers to visit the farm and greenhouse, which is especially beautiful in the early summer. “We appreciate every time somebody comes in our doors and supports us and our families and the people that we are,” she says. “And I hope that they can appreciate the beauty that we can provide them and our knowledge of what we have to offer.”
The Plymouth Farmers Market
kicks off on June 21 and runs every Wednesday afternoon 2:30-6:30 p.m. through October 11. More than 20 vendors will be there with the (locally grown) fruits of their labor. Enjoy music from local artists as you shop. Special children’s activities will also be provided each week. Don’t forget to bring cash and reusable bags for your purchases, but with the exception of service dogs, no animals are allowed at the market.
Farm Fresh Eggs
Besides the friendly family dog and two cats, who tend to hang out in the greenhouse, the only other animals on the Gregor Farm are their chickens. Their 70 hens lay eggs year-round, and the farm has a self-service area if you want to pick up some farm fresh eggs during your visit. If you wander on down the hill, you can pay them a visit, and there’s plenty of grain on hand if you feel like feeding them a snack, too.