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  • Ariana Schumacher

Gilkerson Gardens Fulfills Local Produce Needs through Brookings Farmers Market

Updated: Jun 12

The Gilkerson Family has sold home-grown produce and raw milk products at the Brookings Farmers Market since 1997, the same year the market was incorporated. 


It’s a place that keeps business rolling for the family. 



“I’ve been with that farmers market a long time,” owner Trever Gilkerson says. “When we started out, I was selling stuff out of the garden. We eventually got into the greenhouses and kind of switched to that. Even as I have done other farmers markets, that one has always been our main one.”


Gilkerson Gardens is located on the family’s fourth-generation dairy farm just east of Brookings. Trever’s father Jim operates the dairy portion of the business. For Trever, his real interest lies in the greenhouses. 


“My passion is more in the horticulture side of things, so when I got done with college, I started building greenhouses,” he says. “I have grown a lot of different things, but specialize lately in the Beefsteak tomatoes.” 


Last year alone, Gilkerson grew around 24,000 pounds of tomatoes in the greenhouses. In addition to selling produce at the farmers market, he also markets produce wholesale to different area businesses. “I would say about right now, 90 percent of the tomatoes go to grocery stores.”  


While Gilkerson specializes in tomatoes, the farm also produces asparagus in May. 


“Back when I was going to a lot more farmers markets, I planted a lot of asparagus,” he says. “While I have kind of specialized in the tomatoes now, the asparagus is something that keeps going every year.” 


Occasionally, he will try to grow new produce items on the farm. Last year, he added pumpkins. 


“At one time I was trying to grow a whole mix of things, but we have kind of specialized now in the tomatoes,” he says. 


Gilkerson Gardens focuses on produce that will be available from May through July. He plants tomatoes in intervals so different greenhouses will be ready during different weeks of the season. Some tomatoes were planted in the greenhouses as early as February, so they will be ripe for the upcoming season. 


“We will have tomatoes out of the greenhouse, and they are a really popular item in that early part of the year,” he says. “Then in about August, then all the other tomatoes come in and if that is the only product we have it just isn’t worth it for us to go the later part of the season.” 


Attending farmers markets and selling his produce through the on-farm store allows Gilkerson to connect with his customers. 


“It’s nice to have a personal relationship with your customers,” he says. “That’s true whether it’s at the farmers market or as I meet people as they come out to the store here.”


The farmers market also provides Gilkerson with a chance to get to know the other producers in the area. 


“Networking with other producers, you kind of learn what’s going on in the farming community,” he says. 


You can find Gilkerson selling his produce at the Brookings Farmers Market from May through July. More information about purchasing options is available at gilkersongardens.com.



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