Extension Logo
Extension Logo
University of Minnesota Extension

Hennepin County Farm Family

Gray Family

David Gray was first introduced to farming while growing up near his grandparents’ century-old dairy farm in central Wisconsin. In the mid-90s, David constructed greenhouses across the country, where he was exposed to many different types of growing practices. For 12 years he co-directed a non-profit that helped adults with developmental disabilities find and maintain employment.

David created and directed a farm operation with the goal of creating competitive-paying jobs. The farm eventually became a 10-acre certified organic vegetable farm located in Buffalo. The farm had a 100-member CSA and sold produce at farmers markets and grocery stores.

David continues to focus on season-extending farming practices along with soil health and water quality. 

David and Beth Gray currently operate Bullthistle Gardens, with three locations in south Minneapolis. One location is an outdoor garden that is leased through the Minneapolis Garden Lease Program. The garden sits within the foundation of an old house. They also run a high tunnel erected in a parking lot and they grow produce in their home and garage. The Grays specialize in raising salad greens, microgreens, herbs and tomatoes. They sell to stores and through farmers markets and restaurants.

David credits Beth as being the glue that has held the operation together during recent challenges and she continues to share David’s vision of growing food in the city. The Grays have two children,  Jack and Elsie, who grew up helping their dad when he worked on larger farms. Now they use that experience and help David with planting, harvesting, washing and packaging. They also help with deliveries and selling produce at farmers markets. Luca, the family dog, was David’s most constant companion around the farm. Sadly, Luca, a Great Pyrenees, passed away in 2021.

The Grays are members of the Crow River Chapter of the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota and David serves as committee chair of the FSA’s Urban County Committee. In 2020, the Grays provided a high tunnel to Minnesota Central Kitchen/Chowgirls Catering and grew produce specifically for them that was used in meals prepared for individuals and families in need.

Page survey

© 2023 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.