‘A hobby for the soul’ Hidden Springs Peony Farm’s new owner shares family’s flight from suburbia to farm life

The Kubes family pictured in their peony field (l-r): Bianca, Bryan, Mira (being held), Gwen and Laura. In January 2023, the family bought the Hidden Springs Peony Farm in rural Spring Grove, Minn. (submitted)

Laura and Bryan Kubes (pronounced “Koobesh”) weren’t raised on farms. In fact, aside from Bryan’s grandparents’ farm, his career with a seed company and Laura’s gardening, the couple’s real-world exposure to farm life was minimal before 2022. 

However, over the years while living in Plymouth, Minn., just outside Minneapolis, the urge to flee their hectic suburban lifestyle wore on them to the point they felt they absolutely must get back to basics, buy a farm and even raise at least some of their own food.

“For a long time, we needed a little more country and a little less city in our lives,” said Laura, who owns the Hidden Springs Peony Farm with husband Bryan, located at 18581 Houston County Rd. 4, near Spring Grove, Minn. “There’s definitely a trend of people in cities thinking about how great it would be to just buy a farm and raise chickens, and I’m proud of us for taking that leap, because it’s not easy.”

In 2022, the Kubeses sold their Plymouth home and temporarily moved in with Laura’s mother while they hunted for their dream home, but they suspected they’d end up buying a peony farm.

“We had a checklist of things we wanted in a home,” Laura said. “We wanted to farm something of a specialty crop. So, we wanted a property with at least 30 acres, some woods, some tillable land and a clean water source in the driftless region.

“This place came up for sale and at first, we didn’t consider it an option,” she continued. “But, over the course of a few hours, we came back to the listing and saw how amazing it was. So, we decided to come look at it.”

The first day Bryan and Laura visited the peony farm wasn’t ideal. It was a rainy August day, and all the peonies had been mowed down. But the property’s natural beauty quickly and easily seduced the couple.

“We took a hike to the top of the property with the former owners, Harvey and Brigitte Buchite, and the views were amazing. When you’re lost in the woods and exploring, you’re in a whole other world, and then to boot, you have a whole field of peonies to look forward to in the spring. We instantly fell in love with the farm. I’m a firm believer that the universe will give you what you need at the right time that you need it, as long as you are open to saying ‘Yes’ to that. That’s truly how I believe this farm became ours.”

The Kubeses bought the Hidden Springs Peony Farm in January 2023, but it wasn’t easy. Laura said they had to jump through many hoops to get the funding they needed to make the move.

“It turns out, in the ag financing world, everyone knows a lot about corn and soybeans, but no one knows anything about peonies,” Laura said. “So, it’s hard to find someone to lend you money to buy a field full of peonies. 

“We ended up with Compeer Financial out of Rochester, who was amazing to work with,” she continued. “They helped us focus on ‘How is this going to work?’ and ‘How are we going to afford it?’ They were instrumental in helping us figure it all out, and the former owners were amazingly helpful as well — just in passing down knowledge; not just in peonies but also how the business works.”

In 2023, during Laura and Bryan’s first growing season, the two were bombarded with new information. Laura said that during that entire first season, they didn’t bring one bouquet of peonies into their new home, because they were so swamped with work and information every day.

“Mentally, we were so overwhelmed by getting through the first season,” she said. “There’s a steep learning curve, and there’s a lot of work to do. We feel very fortunate for everyone who supported us through our first two seasons. This season has been much less stressful because we’ve been through a whole year of it, and we understand the ebb and flow of the farm and the business. And we’ve also been a lot busier, which has been great.”

In addition to their work on the peony farm, Bryan still works for Syngenta Golden Harvest and Laura is a former meteorologist who hosts a gardening segment for KARE Channel 11 in Minneapolis.

“My favorite part of the business is sharing this cool place,” Laura said. “Peonies hold such memories for people, and I love hearing those stories. They become a family heirloom, and that’s definitely my favorite part of this business.

“Also, seeing how happy people are when they’re walking through the field,” she continued. “That’s beautiful to us, because when we look out there, we see a lot of work to be done. But visitors see it as a field full of peonies, which is what it should be seen as.”

The couple and their three daughters have quickly adapted to the farming lifestyle. So far, they have 11 laying hens, two roosters, one cat, one dog, and they’ll soon be investing in some goats to help with forestry management around the property.

Laura said the peony farm is a destination for bus tours and garden tours, and the public is always welcome to come out to the farm just to check it out and walk among the peonies free of charge and without feeling obligated to buy anything.

“Peonies, and flowers in general, are just mood-lifters,” she explained with a smile. “They’re absolutely a key to good mental health, in my opinion. Gardening is also such a healthy hobby; getting your hands dirty and growing something is so rewarding. I feel the same way about fruits and vegetables. When you get to eat something that you grew, it’s so gratifying. It’s such a good hobby for the soul.”

The Hidden Springs Peony Farm also sells other flowers, fruit trees and bushes. Additionally, in their shop, they sell t-shirts, sweatshirts, gardening books, gifts, seeds and more. 

For more information, visit www.hiddenspringspeonyfarm.com or call 763-218-4540.

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