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Filling a growing need in Farmington

Shoppers who visit Jerry's Farm and Garden Place in Farmington will find the expected mix of flowers, plants, trees and grasses, but they'll also have an opportunity to hang out with some roosters.

Shoppers looking looking to liven up their yard with some new plants or flowers will find most of the expected items at Jerry's Farm and Garden Place. It's the chicken that sometimes take them by surprise.

The farm fowl have their own coop in a back room of the building, but most of the day they're free to roam the property around the Flagstaff Avenue business. If the chickens quiet, shoppers might never know they're there. But when they start making noise, they tend to draw attention. Kids love to feed them, and Jerry's co-owner Rick Schweim said the birds add an old-fashioned farm feeling to the business, which is located across Highway 50 from Farmington High School.

Jerry's opened for business this spring, though the metal building that houses it has been there longer than that. It's on property once farmed by Jerry Schweim, Rick's father, who started the nursery business 54 years ago from a garage in Richfield. Jerry Schweim grew corn and other crops on the property, but he's 90 now, and he retired from Farming three years ago. With the property available and increased traffic in the area thanks to the new high school, Rick and his brother Jay decided to expand the family business from its flagship store in Eagan.

"There seemed to be a need out there," Rick Schweim said. "The high school opened up and brought a lot more traffic to that area. We enjoy doing this and offering flowers to the public because that's what we've been."

Jerry's offers a wide variety of things that grow, from hanging baskets to grasses to shrubs and trees. The garden center also sells vegetable plants and seeds.

Schweim said Jerry's makes and effort to get the kinds of things you can't always find at other nurseries.

"It's a select nursery," he said. "It has the unusual."

This has been a tricky spring for launching a new nursery. Warm weather early in the year got people excited about growing, but some bitterly cold days made gardening a challenge. Schweim said he's been busy trying to spread the word about the new location.

"It's just a matter of getting people to know we're there and what we've got," he said. "It's a good selection. It's home and garden. Country flavor."

Garage to garden

When Jerry Schweim launched the business that would become Jerry's Farm and Garden Place it looked very little like it does today. Schweim set up shop in the garage of his Richfield home sharpening saws and doing lawn mower repair. The nursery business grew from there, eventually expanding into a Richfield store and later moving to Eagan. Rick Schweim has been involved in the business since he was 5 years old.

"I love this business. Otherwise I would have quit," Schweim said. "You're outdoors all the time. People are so happy when they buy flowers. It's a good business."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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