Creekside Greenhouses to open in May at former Frank’s Greenhouses near Pennock

PENNOCK, Minn. -- A popular greenhouse business west of Willmar will reopen this year with a new name and new owner. The new name is Creekside Greenhouses and the new owner is Lisa Grindberg. The 31-year-old North Dakota native, who has a degree ...

Lisa Grindberg, owner of Creekside Greenhouses, talks Friday about preparations for opening her new business in rural Pennock. In a partnership with her parents, Grindberg purchased the former Frank’s Greenhouses at the end of January and will open to the public May 1. (Briana Sanchez / Tribune)

PENNOCK, Minn. - A popular greenhouse business west of Willmar will reopen this year with a new name and new owner.

The new name is Creekside Greenhouses and the new owner is Lisa Grindberg.

The 31-year-old North Dakota native, who has a degree in horticulture and 12 years of experience in the greenhouse business in Fargo, North Dakota, purchased the rural Pennock farm - located seven miles north of Pennock on Kandiyohi County Road 1 - that had previously operated as Frank's Greenhouses for more than 30 years.

The business closed after the original owners, Dave and Susie Frank, were killed in a car crash in July of 2015 near their farm.

The 108-acre farm, which includes 14 greenhouses, a retail building, farm shop and residential house, had been vacant and for sale since the Franks died.


Grindberg has relatives who live in Kandiyohi County, and during family get-togethers, they talked about how much they missed Frank's Greenhouses.

With encouragement - and also a business partnership - from her parents, Grindberg purchased the property at the end of January and moved in shortly afterward.

Ever since, she has been on a mad dash to establish a business logo, set up social media outlets and secure vendors ahead of her May 1 opening to the public.

She has used her carpentry skills to repair roofs, water lines and blower fans in the greenhouses and get heat and humidity sensors operating that send alarms to her cell phone.

She has kept a grueling pace to plant flower and vegetable seeds that are growing in the incubator and to transplant about 150,000 small "plugs" of newly started plants into larger containers.

The transplant process includes removing each plug from a tray of 50, nipping off early flower buds and discolored or errant leaves with fingertips and then replanting them in a 4½-inch pot filled with soil.

The pruning helps the plants focus energy on growing sturdy stalks and flowers that will be in full bloom when customers are ready to buy them.

It's a tedious process, admits Grindberg, who has two part-time employees and is looking for more seasonal help. Her parents, Rod and Lorie Grindberg, who still live in North Dakota, are also involved with the operation.


One by one the greenhouses are filling up with vibrant, green plants including geraniums, dorotheanthus, helichrysum, begonias, calibrachoa, lobularia, pericallis and double snowball bacopa.

Her favorite flower is lisianthus, a small, tulip-shaped flower that blooms late into the fall.

"It's a lovely flower and it's highly underestimated," she said.

Greenhouses dedicated to vegetable packs already have herbs such as fennel and mint growing and will be filled with garden favorites including tomatoes and peppers.

"This will be full," said Grindberg, sweeping an arm across a half-full greenhouse during a recent tour of the business.

By the time the greenhouses open to the public at 9 a.m. May 1, Grindberg will have 477 different varieties of annual flowers, 82 varieties of vegetables and herbs and 37 varieties of perennial flowers.

It's a list that will grow in future years after her "trial-and-error" first year. "I'm here to give everyone what they want," Grindberg said.

She will carry some garden gifts and supplies in the retail shop, intends to grow produce to sell and is already taking reservations to custom-design customers' outdoor flower pots.


She's well-aware that the busy spring schedule leaves little time for sleep.

It's a routine she has known for 12 years - but now she will be doing it for her own business.

Grindberg said she "always dreamed" of owning her own greenhouse business, "but I never thought it was going to happen."

She graduated in 2009 from North Dakota State University in Fargo with a degree in horticulture and worked at Baker Garden & Gifts in Fargo all through college. She worked as manager at the year-round business for about seven years, including overseeing plant production.

Grindberg said she loved her job, but when the opportunity popped up to own her own business, she decided to make the move.

One of the selling points of the property, she said, was Shakopee Creek that winds through the farm.

After coming up with a list of 60 potential names, she said the beauty of the small stream led her to choose Creekside Greenhouses as the business name.

The greenhouses will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day - including Sundays - in May and June, Grindberg said.


She is hoping that by the end of June, all the vegetable and flower pots will be sold and she will spend the rest of this season growing produce and making additional improvements to the property for next year.

In the future, Grindberg said she wants to carry additional products, including trees and shrubs, and stay open later into the fall.

Grindberg said she knows she has "big shoes to fill" that were left by the Franks but has heard from many of their former customers that they intend to come back.

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