From Your Farmer: December 2021

I’m always struck by the quiet that comes immediately after the hustle and bustle of TurkeyFest. After days of cheerful conversations, ringing phones, swinging doors, and the movement of trucks and orders, there’s a sudden quiet after we lock the market door on Thanksgiving eve. In the quiet hum of the cooler compressors, I’m overcome with a deep sense of gratitude for all that goes into our Thanksgiving season. While the signature TurkeyFest event happens in the final week before Thanksgiving, our staff has been working hard for months to prepare for the season. The poults get started in the spring and summer, our frozen turkeys begin shipping in the fall, and our market staff is busy ordering cranberries, pies, and brine along the way. It’s a team effort, and we’ve got a good one. I’m incredibly grateful for our Ferndale staff. Of course, none of this work would matter if we didn’t have customers (that’s you!) who see [...]


From Your Farmer: September 2021

I’d like to personally invite you to our Customer Appreciation Day, coming up fast on Saturday, October 2nd! This event has known many names over the years, starting as our Anniversary Open House in 2009, when we celebrated the first anniversary of our on-farm market opening. When I think back, making it to one year was quite a feat, given that we were turkey farmers learning retail through on-the-job-training! We’ve continued to celebrate the Anniversary Open House on milestone years, when we made it to 5 and then 10 years in business, but we began calling it our Fall Open House in the not-so-notable years between the goalposts. Somewhere along the way, we got smart enough to collaborate with other fall events happening around Cannon Falls, and this year will be no different! There’s the longstanding Sogn Valley Art Fair and fall harvest activities at both Cannon River Winery and Tilion Brewing. I’m excited to resume the tradition of our fall [...]


From Your Farmer: August 2021

I’m a believer in vocation, the idea that all work has purpose, and we can all contribute to a better world through our daily work. There’s no job that doesn’t have an impact on somebody else’s life or livelihood, so all work is important. You may be able to tell that in a past life I was an Admission Counselor at my alma mater, Augustana University, so my feelings on work and purpose are well rehearsed, going back to my years counseling would-be college students. Afterall, even on our farm, we wouldn’t do very well growing turkeys if someone hadn’t made our woven wire fencing, or if we didn’t have a garbage hauler to retrieve our cardboard recycling each week. Or, if we didn’t have the grain farmer that grows corn for our feed. Or, for that matter, the mechanic that services that farmer’s combine. You get the idea. It takes us all. Still, I’ve been thinking a lot [...]


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, [...]


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, [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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. [...]