Our names are Lacey and Marcus Mead and we own and operate Tomte’s Grove & Garden in Moscow, Idaho. Tomte’s is part choose and cut Christmas tree grove and part market garden, both managed using regenerative farming practices. Our goal is to create an abundance of farm magic through the food and trees we grow for our family, friends, and community, all while rejuvenating the living soils that make it all possible.
The idea of building and running a market garden started in 2011 during our last couple years of college. The house we rented was southwest of the city and had a small space for a garden. Having both been raised on farms we didn’t think we were doing anything too special when we planted a small variety of vegetables. But with zero expectations other than enjoying our time spent together doing it, we actually enjoyed… gardening. A lot. It was strange, but undeniably, it was awesome. Dreams of growing enough food to eat and preserve and “sell the rest” quickly dominated the margins of our post-college, married-with-kids life. The first opportunity came in 2016 when we established “Smith Hollow Farmstead” on farm ground leased from family in Columbia County, Washington State. After several years there, opportunity came in 2019 to purchase our own property in Latah County, Idaho, a few miles north of Moscow.
The new property had what we considered necessary for our family and future market garden, and something else… Christmas trees. The previous owner had started selling trees in the early 2k’s, inviting people out to the farm to “choose and cut” their own tree. In the beginning we were a little hesitant but realized quickly that selling trees in the winter would pair well with running a market garden that operated during the warm months of the year.
Selling trees the first year greatly inspired us as we watched scores of folks and families arrive to pick out their tree. For many of them, the farm was the setting of a family tradition alive for over a decade! It seemed like they knew more about the farm then we did, which was true in a lot of cases. Everyone was exceedingly grateful for our willingness to continue the tree farm, and over the next several seasons it was a great opportunity to spread the word about the future plans for the then-nameless market garden.
At the end of 2022 “Tomte’s Grove & Garden” was created and in June 2023 we had our first sales from produce grown in the market garden. We are excited about regenerative farming practices and look forward to implementing those ideals to all aspects of our farm. It is important to us how our food is grown and the role we take in managing land. We enjoy and encourage conversations about farming practices, and support anyone who is curious to find a way to talk to us, whether at the Latah County Farmer’s Market on Saturday’s, a trip to the farm when the farm stand is open (coming soon), or through different social media channels.
…by the way, who is Tomte?
According to Nordic folklore, a tomte is a gnome-like creature who lives on a farm and helps care for the inhabitants, animals, and the land. Tomte is commonly associated in popular culture with Christmas and the winter solstice, however he resides on the farm year-round as a sort of care taker and wears farm clothes and a pointed red hat. Children often are encouraged to leave out porridge for Tomte in the barn where he lives.
On our farm Tomte holds special significance because both Marcus and I have ancestral roots in Scandanavia . Naming our farm after the tomte and telling his stories to our children reminds us that farming is integral to the human story wherever it is found, and by honoring the tradition we are making our own effort to connect to what might be the same beautiful feeling that a farm imparted to our ancestors long ago.