Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply Helps City Folk Grow Their Own Food

When I see a 3/50 project sign in a store window, I know that I have the opportunity to support a small, local, independent business. (The 3/50 project encourages consumers to pick 3 independent businesses that they would miss if they were suddenly gone and commit to trying to spend $50 per month at one of those businesses or others like them.) Just such a sign greeted me when I stopped in at Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply for the first time. 

My original trip to Egg|Plant was to pay for a class about using my new Pickl-It lacto-fermentation jars that I got through a group buy with some friends. That was when I met Audrey Matson, one of the store’s owners.

I wandered around making mental notes for a return visit: reusable Tattler canning lids, check. Glass storage containers, check. Cheese making kit, check. Container gardening supplies check. Maple tree tapping gizmos, check. Books, lots of books, check. Cute, food-related gift items, check.

I liked the clean, uncluttered feel of the store, but mostly I felt like I was home -- at a store that embodied the local, sustainable, traditional, real food lifestyle I was attempting to embrace (some days more successfully than others). And, although I can’t do so myself, I'm jazzed that so many people are raising their own chickens and I'm jealous of their daily access to fresh eggs. I never dreamed there would be a store, right in my old neighborhood, where you could walk out with a chicken coop. 

Each time I go back I find more to be intrigued about and more ideas to support my desire to “preserve the harvest”. Although I’ve failed pretty miserably so far, hope springs eternal. When I visited Egg|Plant in December, I picked up a small pressure canner, the exact right size for my little condo kitchen. I’m already looking forward to trying my hand at canning the bounty I find at the farmers' markets this summer. I also have my eyes on a cute little grow light system that I may put up on a ledge in my kitchen so I can grow lettuce year-round.

On my last visit, I took some time to wander back to the gardening section of the store and discovered worm composting systems, gardening tools, potting soil, pots of all shapes and sizes, and a small backyard with a garage that had been converted into a classroom.

In the spring and summer Egg|Plant sells live plants - vegetables, fruit trees, herbs, and edible flowers. You won’t find bedding plants at Egg|Plant, but you will find everything you need to grow your own food (including lots of organic and heirloom seeds) and raise chickens in the city (from feed to coops to the chickens themselves).

Egg|Plant has been in business since April 2010, but Audrey told me she had thought about opening the store for about three years. A farm girl working on a master’s degree in agriculture (with a focus on garden center management and organic and sustainable growing methods), Audrey says by opening Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply she has truly discovered what she wants to do.

Audrey used to be a garden center manager, so she has lots of first-hand gardening experience. I get the impression that she enjoys the thrill of the hunt as she sources products for her customers as well; she told me that there are a number of items the store carries specifically because customers requested them ( e.g., the Pickl-It jars and Tattler Lids). 

Bob Lies, Audrey's husband and co-owner of the store, is a self-described tinkerer, builder, and computer geek, all very valuable skills when building out a store and installing a computer system. I really appreciate how knowledgeable and humble Audrey and Bob are – they readily share what they know (which is considerable) and freely admit what they don’t.

Audrey says the store is pretty much on track with its business plan. She admits that starting a new business in the middle of a recession was a bit of a gamble, although the number of folks interested in growing their own food is at an all-time high. Thankfully, Bob has a full-time job as a technical writer and an information systems analyst, so the couple has a little breathing room to let the business grow.

Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply is located at:

1771 Selby Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55104

Store hours:

Tuesday - Saturday 10 - 6
Sunday 12 - 4
Closed Monday

Mary Jo Koplos works as a freelance writer and is currently writing pithy descriptions for an online toy store, reporting for, editing a monthly professional association newsletter, and helping her brother grow his business (Postal Dispatch Business Center). She is the especially passionate about real food and small business.