This year marks the 100th anniversary of Costa Farm & Greenhouse, which grows flowers and vegetables across about 150 acres in Washington County. Amidst urban sprawl and competition from big-box retailers, owners Ron and Karin Costa have kept the family farm thriving into its third generation.
Costa Farm was founded in 1919 by Ron’s grandfather, Peter Costa Sr., who emigrated from Sicily, Italy, shortly after the turn of the 20th century. Back in Italy, Peter Sr. had grown olives and nuts. After making Minnesota his home, he expanded his farming practice to include a wider array of produce.
“We started out in Little Canada and Vadnais Heights,” Ron said. “We used to rent land on County Road E, where Walmart and Target are now.”
Peter Sr. and his family sold their produce to restaurants, grocery stores and other local families at venues like the St. Paul Farmers Market. When he retired, Ron’s father, Peter Costa Jr., took over, running the farm until about 1989, when Ron assumed the operation from him.
In 1990, Costa Farm was forced to move after Walmart and Target bought the land they had rented for years. Ron and Peter Jr. decided on a 65-acre plot of land on Highway 96 near the middle of Grant, almost exactly halfway between White Bear Lake and Stillwater. Karin joined the team after she and Ron married in 1991 and, throughout high school, their daughters Gina and Grace, now at college out of state, helped out as well.