From Your Farmer: July 2021

Midwestern farmers aren’t supposed to brag, and typically I try to live up to that reputation. But when we learned that our Turkey Wiener had been named the BEST poultry hot dog in a tasting by Epicurious, we couldn’t keep it to ourselves! If you haven’t seen the article, you can find it here. We were as surprised as anybody by the news, which made it all the more special. We hadn’t applied or known this was happening, so it felt like a real endorsement and we ran into real competition with some familiar names. When it comes to bragging, the truth is that the real credit goes to our friends at Lorentz Meats, who actually make the hot dog for us (and, through a stroke of amazingly good fortune, happen to be located just up the road from us in Cannon Falls). Sure, we raise the turkeys, but if you’re picturing our team with a sausage stuffer and smoker, [...]

2021-07-22T16:12:59+00:00

From Your Farmer: June 2021

When you live in a small town, it doesn’t take much to make the local news. In our case, it’s even easier, because our local newspaper runs a weekly “Yesteryear” column, featuring headlines from milestones years prior. As a history guy, I always seek them out (right up there with the police report and the obituaries), but two in particular have hit close to home recently, both from 1946 – 75 years ago: Former serviceman Dale Peterson received discharge from the Army and has again taken up work on his turkey farm a short distance from town. And: Firemen were called out to the Dale Peterson turkey farm about 6am on Wednesday. A fire of undetermined origin destroyed one of the several large straw sheds housing the turkeys, but most of them had been driven out before the blaze reached any proportion. I always enjoy reading entrepreneurial stores and the start-up tales of new businesses. Like any good story, [...]

2021-07-22T16:08:56+00:00

From Your Farmer: May 2021

Brooding days are a lot of work. It’s fresh in my mind because we just started (brooded) our spring flock a couple weeks ago. The work of starting poults is made all the more challenging because we’re doing it in intense heat in our brooder barn, with our air temp close to 100 degrees to keep the baby turkeys comfortable. And, there’s the constant watching your step, as eagerly curious baby turkeys dart around on the fresh sawdust underfoot. In the “good old days,” we hatched our own poults (fun fact: our market is in our former hatchery), so the birds had a very short trip from the incubator to the brooder barn. Today, they’re custom hatched for us and arrive early in the morning on a carefully climate-controlled truck. Much like anybody who’s purchased chicks at the local feed store, ours arrive in boxes of 100 poults before we welcome them to their new home. This is definitely [...]

2021-07-22T16:06:47+00:00

From Your Farmer: April 2021

It’s the season of opening barn doors and chasing turkeys out to range! There’s probably no time on a farm that captures the eternal optimism in agriculture better than spring. No matter what happened last year, new seeds get planted each spring. Despite the muddy boots and surprise late season snowflakes, there’s an excitement to the season as we get back to what we do best. The other excitement around Ferndale is a long time coming! After years of customer requests and lots of learning on our part, we are finally ready to launch a pre-sliced version of our Smoked Turkey Breast. Most people may wonder why this took us so long.  After all, how hard could it be to slice something we’re already making? I’ll simply say, it’s harder than we knew! All along, our guiding principal in developing the Sliced Smoked Turkey Breast remained “let’s not change a thing—just slice it!” Turns out, because we are using [...]

2021-04-22T17:10:38+00:00

From Your Farmer: March 2021

One year ago, we wrote our first COVID response statement after a hasty team meeting the morning after Minnesota’s school closure was announced.  Like everybody, we knew the world was about to change but had no way to sense the twists-and-turns we were in for.  I remember I started our statement with “we are all in this together.”  I’m sure the rest of the note was naive, given all we know today, but I know we led with loads of extra sanitation in our market.  Over the ensuing weeks, we came to launch curbside pickup, worked with our local food partners as demand surged, and expanded the measures to keep our staff and customers safe. It seems like the quick-and-easy narrative for businesses during COVID has been a focus on the obstacles (and there have been plenty), but I want to note the anniversary by looking forward at a few of the unforeseen positives that have come out of [...]

2021-03-30T16:48:30+00:00

From Your Farmer: February 2021

In the grand scheme of things, the world doesn’t really need our Ferndale Market turkey.  The flocks we grow in a year are a rounding error in the billions of pounds of turkey grown annually, much of it by global meat companies.  The early pandemic processing plant worries showed many consumers just how concentrated the control in the meat world has become, and it’s not just true for turkeys.  Any chicken, pig, or beef farmer would likely tell you the same.  We’ve all heard the often-true agricultural mantra “that the big get bigger and the rest get out.” We spend a lot of time talking about the well-defined and visible differences with our Ferndale turkeys: they’re grown free-range and raised without antibiotics.  And while these are significant differences – and sources of pride – for us, the difference in our model of farming might be the real difference-maker.  One of my local food heroes is Lucie Amundsen, who founded [...]

2021-02-09T16:42:40+00:00

From Your Farmer: January 2021

Happy New Year from the team and turkeys at Ferndale Market! I love to recap and celebrate at the end of each year. I learned from an early boss that no process is complete without celebrating the accomplishment, and I agree. Although this year’s toasts are masked and socially-distanced, the wild ride of 2020 is all the more reason to look back at the roads we traveled here. In our market, I marvel at how much has happened over the past 12 months. Like all businesses, we did our best to respond to the needs of 2020, and I believe we are better off for it. Our team quickly added new staple food items to our mix to better serve as a one-stop-shop for our customers, adapted to our now-popular curbside pickup, and soon thereafter launched boxes to ship to your door. All of these were wish list items that rapidly got moved to the front-burner with the encouragement of our customers. [...]

2021-01-12T16:50:30+00:00

From Your Farmer: December 2020

On the first morning of our very first attempt at drive-through TurkeyFest, our website crashed.  We’d built our plan over the past many months and countless conversations, and it all hinged on solid technology. We needed to see each order online and know when each customer would arrive so we could have orders ready, bring them to the right car, and match the right turkey to the right recipient. It all worked perfectly in trial runs, but here we were on opening morning: our website was down and all the information we needed went with it. Nothing could get started. Thankfully, we were quickly able to get a hold of our web programmer. Within minutes, the site was up and we were back in business. I tell this story not to recount the short moments of terror on that first day, but because it’s a reminder of how many people are behind our Thanksgiving season. We could grow the world’s [...]

2020-12-07T18:08:46+00:00

From Your Farmer: November 2020

The empty boxes are piling up high in the back room, so Thanksgiving must be just around the corner!  Beginning mid-summer each year, we start saving empty boxes of all shapes and sizes to assist with turkey carryout during the Thanksgiving season. Because dressed turkeys tend to be heavy and awkwardly shaped, we give a lot of used boxes a second act as a handy carrying container.  The tall pile of boxes ready-for-action signals that Thanksgiving prep is in full swing around here. This is the time of year we’re all operating in high speed -- on the farm, at the market, and in our warehouse.  Our team is taking orders, loading shipments, and, of course, tending to turkeys each day.  Despite the curveballs 2020 has thrown at us, we are grateful for the opportunity to continue many of these usual Thanksgiving patterns here. And yet, we know so many things will feel very different this Thanksgiving season.  For [...]

2020-11-17T18:26:54+00:00

From Your Farmer: September 2020

My Grandpa certainly wasn’t thinking about finding a good day-trip-destination community when he settled on our farm in the late 1930s.  He just wanted a good spot to grow turkeys, and who could have foreseen what an ideal destination Cannon Falls would become?  In that era, Highway 52 was a quiet two-lane road and Cannon Falls would have felt much further from the growing population base in the Twin Cities.  Today, with the help of 65 mile-per-hour speed limits and four-lane highways, our historic community along the Cannon River is less than an hour from both the Twin Cities and Rochester, and a perfect place for us to call home. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because this is typically the season of community planning for our Flavors of the Falls celebration and annual Ferndale Market Fall Open House, held on the same weekend.  Although these events won’t be held this year, autumn is still a terrific [...]

2020-09-28T17:16:08+00:00