The Richfield Public School District is a place where students can learn, grow and excel. While they have certainly learned and excelled in their field, Richfield High School alumni Dusty, Colty and Kierra took the “growing” part literally.
Beginning as a dream for Richfield native and 2005 graduate Dusty Hinz, Agrarian Seed and Garden became a reality in April 2021 when he opened it in partnership with his brother, Colty, and soon to be sister-in-law, Kierra. Formerly an antique and plant store, Dusty, Colty and Kierra purchased the space from the original owner, who chose them specifically for their vision in keeping it a garden center.
“He really wanted us to be successful,” said Dusty. “It’s been a real help.”
Dusty’s farming experience goes back more than 10 years, when he began working as an organic farmer in 2010. Since then, he’s traveled the states working in various farming jobs, before settling back in Richfield in 2018. Before opening Agrarian Seed & Garden earlier this year, Dusty opened his first business, a non-profit seed company called The Experimental Farm Network.
The goal of the Experimental Farm Network is to encourage sustainable agriculture and facilitate a collaborative plant breeding program in order to help combat global climate change and ensure food security. Along a similar path, the word “agrarian” refers to an agrarian society, where most people are farmers and grow their own food.
“Our society is unsustainable,” says Dusty. “We are trying to create solutions. If we can help bring people together to do that, that’s what we want to do.”
Although Agrarian Seed and Garden is in South Minneapolis, The Experimental Farm Network is currently being run out of Colty and Kierra’s Richfield basement. Two businesses may seem like a lot, but each has its own busy season and the three team members are confident they can continue to be successful with both.
So what can you find at Agrarian Seed and Garden (ASG)? Well, seeds from the Experimental Farm Network, for one. ASG also sells plants for every type of garden—from summer staples like tomatoes and peppers to a wide variety of native perennials. This fall, they offered hazelnut plants, straw, mums, seed garlic, native perennial wildflower seeds (for fall planting), bulbs (tulips, daffodils, etc.) and pumpkins.
More than just seeds and plants, though, is the immense knowledge, personal service and expertise you will find at ASG. There is a feeling that anyone can walk in and start a conversation with the staff about their garden space, current plants, wish lists and potential problems—from complete newbies to experienced garden enthusiasts. The relaxing atmosphere, friendly vibes and backstory make a visit to ASG worth the trip.
“I think it’s important to know that anyone can find success in gardening,” said Colty. “There are people who have never grown anything before coming here, bought a few things, and then have stopped back in and told us that their plants are thriving. And that’s a super cool journey to be on with people.”
Everyone can garden, Kierra agreed. “I feel like a lot of people who think they don’t have a green thumb, have actually just never had a garden. So I think there’s a lot of people who are afraid because they’re not a super hardcore gardener.”
So, what’s the most successful way for a new gardener to thrive? Kierra says it’s simple: start with something you enjoy.
“Start small, with something you can handle, or something you can eat,” she says. “If you don’t like kale, don’t grow kale. Start with one tomato plant.”
The Impact of RPS
All three owners of Agrarian Seed and Garden graduated from Richfield High School and currently live in Richfield. When asked what the best thing was about growing up in Richfield, the first and foremost thing that came to mind was the diversity.
“The biggest thing about Richfield was the diversity. Growing up in a multicultural place has really helped me in a lot of my urban farming endeavors,“ said Dusty. “You get a lot of worldly experience just by being at a public school.”
Now-retired Richfield Middle School art teacher, Steve Mills, has been a staunch supporter of ASG.
“He had all of us in seventh and eighth grade,” said Colty. “He’s been really supportive. He found out about us through the grapevine of Richfield teachers, and now we are hoping to collaborate with him to add on to the art outside of our building.”
Also on the list of positive influences is RHS English teacher Bruce Wiebe, who was described as “absolutely legendary” by Dusty. “He was a positive influence, and creative. We are all still friends with him. A few years ago, I threw a reunion for some of us, and I tracked him down and he actually came to the party. Really great man.”
The group listed several other teachers, including Mr. Zoellmer, Mr. Wessel and Mrs. Seibert (formerly Ms. Brown).
“Ms. Brown was the most supportive teacher for me,” said Kierra. “She was dedicated to helping and supporting each and every student—both in and out of the classroom.”
“We are very happy to be here,” said Dusty. “The support we’ve received from the community has been overwhelming.”
Agrarian Seed and Garden is located at 5152 Hiawatha Ave in Minneapolis. You can check out their website for up-to-date hours, current plant offerings and more.
The Experimental Farm Network website has a variety of projects, resources and more for sustainable farming. You can check it out here.
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