Tackle Tomato Season with Help from the Maple Grove Farmers Market

by | Sep 2022

Colorful tomatoes on a black background.

Photos: Chris Emeott

Experience everything tomatoes have to offer this peak season with help from the Maple Grove Farmers Market.

As a place to appreciate and experience fresh, local produce, the Maple Grove Farmers Market welcomes and celebrates vendors of all kinds. Homegrown and homemade, the market prides itself on delivering healthy products to our community of consumers—with some local produce like tomatoes available during peak season.

For some sellers, the market is a way for them to showcase their skill sets. Like the Nelson Family Farm and Greenhouse, a family-owned and operated vendor known for its juicy tomatoes at the Maple Grove Farmers Market, who has produced the versatile fruit (and much more) for over 35 years.

It started as a genuine passion for working with plants—cofounder Dave Nelson began working in a greenhouse at just 15 years old. Developing a love for vegetation and how to cultivate it, he soon translated his love for the science into something everyone could enjoy.

The original farm started in Corcoran and continued to flourish for 33 years before the family uprooted its crops to move closer to its home on Big Lake.

Selling produce at the Burnsville Farmers Market, it was years before it became a prominent presence at the Maple Grove Farmers Market. With the addition of its greenhouse on the farm, it was now able to produce and harvest tomatoes at a more rapid rate. Resulting in the availability of fresh, ripe tomatoes as early as June, says cofounder Virginia Nelson. (Typically, the natural harvest period for tomatoes is mid-August to October.)

Steak tomatoes on a cutting board.

Not only is the family able to produce sooner, but its also prides itself in sourcing, what Nelson describes, as the tastiest variety with a process that has taken them several years to perfect. “Our tomatoes are larger, [sweeter], meatier tomatoes that are good for eating plain, [in] salsa, [in] spaghetti sauce, [for] stewing and really just everything,” Nelson says.

The farm produces about 80,000 field tomatoes and 12,000 greenhouse tomatoes in one given season. Though tomatoes are its specialty, it also grows pickling cucumbers, slicing cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, muskmelon, watermelon, three types of squash, zucchini and varieties of hot peppers, sweet peppers and bell peppers. “[Gardening] is hard work, and it feels good because you are producing all of this really good and fresh produce and you know where it comes from,” Nelson says.

From farm to table, she says the tomatoes featured at the market stands are within hours from their pluck off the stem. “When we go to the market, we pick it the day before we go and wash or wipe [the tomatoes] that morning,” she says. “It is the freshest you can get.”

If produce isn’t your jam, the farm also grows and sells a variety of annual flowering plants to spruce up your garden.

Maple Grove Farmers Market
12951 Weaver Lake Road; 763.494.5955
Facebook: Nelson Family Farm


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