The scale and grandeur of the wild prairie land inspired awe and wonder among the first explorers.
Ice and snow shaped and tilled this land, preparing it for a diverse and stunning covering of grasses and flowers. The area became an ever-changing landscape, with four seasons of color and shimmering texture. The scale and garner of the wild prairie land inspired awe and wonder among the first settlers.
In west-central Minnesota, among the lakes and prairie potholes that were carved into the rolling countryside, Gene Stark, along with his son, Jeremia, and his wife, grow and propagate plants that have resided here since before written history.
At Glacial Ridge, Gene and his family nurture the natives, producing the same handsome and hardy cultivars that have inhabited the prairies here for centuries. They strive to bring back and restore the genetics of the past to ensure the beauty and diversity of the future.
Now everyone can experience a bit of what the early explorers to the Great Plains experienced.
Glacial Ridge Growers
25132 250th Avenue Glenwood, MN 56334
www.glacialridgegrowers.com (320) 634-0136
Glacial Ridge Growers
Gene started the business as Greenfingers Farm in 1972 in Nebraska. With his wife, Muriel, he started a greenhouse as a way to get young plants for their organic vegetable business. At first it was a summer job, a break from his day job as an elementary school teacher. He liked it so well that he went full-time five years later, and he’s been at it ever since.
When the family moved back to Gene’s home town of Prior Lake, Minnesota, in 1982, they brought the business with them and a Twin Cities tradition was born.
In 2003, facing increasing pressure from rapidly developing Prior Lake, the Starks moved their business to Glenwood, Minnesota, and renamed it Glacial Ridge Growers. Out on the prairie, with pheasants and wild turkeys for company, they spend the year in a seasonally changing series of tasks that results in many of the great plants you find at the Plant Sale.
Gene believes in growing plants that are at home in our Minnesota environment and that provide habitat and food for native insects and birds.
He shares, “I looked back at some of the things I used to sell in the retail greenhouse that are now known to be invasive, like purple loosestrife or buckthorn.” He realized that part of the way to make sure that doesn’t happen again is by selling plants that originated here.
Ornamental grasses are one example where nonnatives sometimes take over niches that belonged to native grasses. In response, Glacial Ridge has limited its list of grasses to native species.
Glacial Ridge is committed to native wild flowers and grasses, despite and because of the challenges. They have only to look outside the greenhouse to see the Minnesota prairie and feel inspired.