Much like small family farms are disappearing in America, family-owned garden centers are becoming rare. Mega-retailers such as Walmart and Menards now feature lawn and garden centers which buy in quantity and enjoy a deeper labor pool which keeps costs down. Dedicated customers and a discriminating clientele are willing to pay more at a local garden center, but slim profits and a demanding workload takes a toll on the ma and pa operations.
But does Walmart have chickens and micro mini-donkeys?
South of Prior Lake, Minn. gardeners can find Queen Bee’z Lawn and Garden. A true throw-back to the garden center of yesteryear, Queen Bee’z is loaded with country charm.
Crystal Dahlgren is the owner of Queen Bee’z. She purchased the Waderich Feed and Garden operation in 2018. You can’t say Dahlgren is a naïve newcomer to the garden center business. She worked at Wederich since she was 14 years old. “Dennis is like a father to me,” she said.
“At a young age I immediately fell in love with growing all the plants,” Dahlgren went on to say. “As time went on, I knew I wanted to own it one day and that is what I worked towards.”
The bright red growing houses provide a warm welcome to shoppers. Right now they are packed with an impressive variety of plants — just waiting for a break in this cold spring to be moved outdoors. We grow all of our vegetables and herbs from seed,” explained Dahlgren. “We grow over 50 different varieties of tomatoes and have a big selection of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs.”
Landscapers will find a handy rock and mulch selection. The quaint garden shop offers a little of everything — from soil to garden products to decorations and enhancements for lawns and gardens.
But the real show lies in the rear of the garden center. A fair number of chickens are scattered about, busily grazing the yard. They pay little mind to visitors and don’t seem the least alarmed. The goats and pony show a curious interest; but the welcoming committee is definitely the mini-donkeys — pressing up to the fence for a close look. “My love for chickens is accidental,” Dahlgren laughed. “People who would order chicks didn’t show up to get their orders; so I just began raising them. They produce the most beautiful colored eggs which we sell in the shop. I love having families come out just to see the animals. Kids — big and small — love coming to visit and the animals love all the visitors too!”
The name Queen Bee’z came courtesy of Dahlgren’s children — who have been accompanying Dahlgren to the center since they were infants. “They said, ‘mom, you never leave the hive! How about you name it Queen Bee’z!’”
With her daughters now working with her side-by-side, Dahlgren reflected on family. “I would really like to see more kids get involved with growing,” she said. “I’m hoping to get more involved with the community and get these kids’ hands dirty. I want to show them all the beauty that is created from growing all the things — from vegetables to trees. It’s important to show these younger kids the way we grow.”
Queen Bee’z Lawn and Garden is located at 17860 Panama Ave., Prior Lake, Minn. Their web site can be found at https://www.queenbeezgarden.com/ and the phone number is (952) 440-8165.