Tomatoes, lettuce grown year-round in Preston

Alice Keefe
Updated: January 23, 2020 07:26 PM
Created: January 23, 2020 07:22 PM

(ABC 6 News) - A snow-covered farm in southeast Minnesota just might be one of the last places you would expect to find fresh produce flourishing. 

“I really do think that I’m here to grow tomatoes,” said Andrew Serio, owner of Serio Farms in Preston. 

For the past five years, regardless of the month, it’s been growing season for Serio.

“In both my greenhouses I have 325 tomato plants and there’s around 1,400 lettuce plants,” he said.

His plants are hydroponics, grown in running water in two greenhouses on a 10-acre farm.

“What that’s doing is it’s allowing oxygen to get put back into the water and then the plant actually, even though it’s emitting carbon dioxide, it also needs oxygen for its roots,” Serio said.

He comes from a farming family, working on a dairy farm, then raising Holsteins, so he never expected to find his success in plants.;

“We met him about four years ago through the local farmer’s market in the summer, and it’s kind of grown from then, and he stops by a few times a week and makes sure we don’t’ run out of tomatoes and lettuce,” said Pete Wilcox, chef at Forager Brewery in Rochester.

Forager is just one of the restaurants that serves up Serio’s produce, and he’s also a hit at the Rochester Farmers Market.

“I am sold out every week, and I am just looking for a way to expand,” Serio said.

He wants to build a third greenhouse that would expand his business tenfold, with room for 3,000 tomato plants, but getting a loan and grants has been tricky. 

“I’ll go to a bank and they’ll kind of look at me and just go ‘jeez, I don’t know, we don’t’ really want to give money to people just producing tomatoes’,” Serio said.

But tomatoes, and lettuce and a few herbs are Serio Farms’ bread and butter.

Serio Farms is at the Rochester Farmers Market every Saturday during the summer, and every other Saturday in the winter. 


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