Axdahl's Garden Farm and Greenhouse

“We grow vegetables the hard way,” says Brian Axdahl of Axdahl’s Garden Farm and Greenhouse. It’s his way of summing up a relentless push for quality that makes his farm, in the green, fertile Saint Croix Valley, a prime producer of sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, and other fresh veggies.

Brian sold pumpkins and corn at the family produce stand as a kid, then worked as a design engineer—for vegetable-harvesting machines, naturally—before taking over the farm from his dad in 1998. He loves the technical challenge of finding and growing better and better varieties of vegetables. “Our number-one goal is taste and quality,” he says, “even if the variety we choose is harder to grow and doesn’t yield as much as some other.”

And Brian makes things even tougher for himself by his commitment to reducing or eliminating pesticides, in addition to preserving bird and animal habitat. But the hard way is worth it for Brian and his wife, Leslie.

"If we take care of the land, it will take care of us," says Leslie.