“If my truck is here, (a gray pickup) I’m here,” Brian Kramer likes to say, adding, “Anytime I’m home, you are welcome to stop by, and I don’t leave very often.”
Home is Kramer’s six acre farmstead north of Elbow Lake on Highway #59. And the reason folks might want to stop by is to see his incredible gardens. The 68-year-old, originally from Worthington, MN, spends nearly all day, every day, outside tending to his peas, asparagus, strawberries, many kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, zucchini, beets, peppers, and more. That’s just the vegetables. He also has beds of nearly every variety of perennial flower that can grow in Minnesota, ground cover plants, over 1,000 hostas, plus apple and walnut trees.
Kramer raises enough in his gardens to support a road-side vegetable stand. But he doesn’t sell his produce… he gives it away!
Oh, sometimes he will put up a stand, but even then, he gives it away. And if you stop by to look at his produce, you will leave with several bags of fresh out-of-the-garden vegetables.
“People need food and I have it,” he says. “Stop by if you need some and enjoy it.”
Flowers too. He is trying hard to give away some of his hostas before they take over completely.
Kramer spent 21 years in the Air Force and in 1991 moved to Maui, Hawaii where he raised, trained, and boarded horses. He also took tourists on tours with his horses.
But in 2008, the economy went into recession and tourism took a big hit. Kramer left Hawaii, and nine years ago, found his spot in Minnesota.
“I am not a master gardener or anything like that.”
In fact, about the only gardening rule he lives by is, “If it doesn’t grow somewhere, move it to where it will.”
As a concession to growing older, he is starting to use more raised beds for his gardening and admits he likes them.
“Easy to water and weed.”
And weeding is something Kramer takes very seriously. Walking about his gardens, he keeps his eyes on the ground, ready to yank out an offending weed.
“With all this rain we’ve been having, I haven’t been keeping up,” he said, pointing to a nearly weed-free one acre flower bed.
Kramer also has three goats and three horses, just to make the place seem more like a farm… and to get fertilizer for his gardens.
“Come on out anytime. You can walk around by yourself or I can give you a tour.”