From Your Farmer

Home/From Your Farmer

From Your Farmer: February 2023

It seems like one of the recurring themes in my recent podcast feed and reading list has been the so-called urban rural divide. Most interestingly, I seem to bump into this from both sides of the table. I’ll read in an agriculture publication that the urbanites don’t get it, and then I’ll hear on the radio that it’s the rural folks that just don’t understand. We seem to be crossing signals somewhere! Call me naïve, but I don’t completely understand the divide, especially around food. I’ll admit up front that geography may skew my opinion, because although I live in rural Minnesota, I often take advantage of our close proximity to the Twin Cities. Like many folks in our area, we often say we have the best of both worlds. I can work all day on the farm and have dinner and a Twins game in Minneapolis. That disclosure aside, I think both sides are missing the point if [...]

2023-02-01T15:09:48-06:00

From Your Farmer: January 2023

Happy New Year from all of us at Ferndale Market! As we flip our calendars to the New Year, it’s fun to celebrate a few victories from the year that was. Although it wasn’t always smooth sailing (don’t get me started on the high cost of turkey feed these days…), we have a lot to feel proud of at Ferndale Market as we close the book on 2022. Here are a few accomplishments to share: We are so grateful to have dodged avian influenza. It was a scary and uncertain time for all poultry farmers, so we are thankful for healthy flocks. While it may be been pure luck, we count ourselves as fortunate. Our freezer got a little bigger! We were able to replace a couple well-worn shipping containers with a new freezer in our warehouse space, just in time for our big autumn push. It felt like we wouldn’t have survived another day without the extra space, [...]

2023-01-13T16:17:23-06:00

From Your Farmer: December 2022

I always come into our post-Thanksgiving season with a deep feeling of gratitude – for our team, our customers, and the many, many partners it takes to pull it off together. As I often remind our crew here, we almost certainly do more than we’re equipped to do each November, but we manage to make it happen without tumbling off the rails. It’s turkey season, after all! I know I speak for everyone here in offering a sincere thank you for the kindness and support you show us each Thanksgiving season. We know so many of our customers make an extra effort to seek us out, and we appreciate that you believe in our Ferndale difference. And, now for something completely different!  I want to share a quick and not-so-flattering story, because it drives home the merits of local food. A couple months back, our local school district was serving our turkey hot dogs. Unfortunately, they didn’t turn out [...]

2022-12-13T13:53:42-06:00

From Your Farmer: November 2022

It’s a tremendous relief to reach this Thanksgiving season. While it’s typical for our year to feel somewhat like a mountain climb to the Thanksgiving peak, the relief is heightened this year after the constant worry about avian influenza (“bird flu”). As influenza continued to impact farms both big and small, across all corners of the country, it was hard to shake a nagging sense of worry. Now, we can feel a deep gratitude to approach the Thanksgiving season with the relief of having been spared. I often think of our Thanksgiving season much like the harvest push for a vegetable, fruit, or crop farmer. Around on our farm, we spend most of the year planning and planting (in our case, brooding poults) and tending closely to make sure all our flocks do well. This year, we did it all with the shadow of a proverbial hail storm. We tried to follow all the best practices to avoid avian [...]

2022-11-09T00:04:55-06:00

From Your Farmer: September 2022

I’m very aware that there are many places you can buy food today. We live in a time and place where groceries seem to be everywhere: gas stations, home improvement stores, big box membership stores, and even delivered to your doorstep in a box. All of which is to say, we know Ferndale Market isn’t your only option. Of course, we’d like to think we’re doing something a little different here, but we never take for granted that you seek us out in a crowded and competitive world of food. It was probably a crazy idea to open an on-farm local food store in 2008, but Ferndale Market is still here today because of you. I think that’s well worth celebrating each year, so please consider this your personal invitation to join me and our team for our annual Customer Appreciation Day next Saturday, October 1st.  Lunch is on Ferndale (you can guess the main course!), and we have [...]

2022-09-26T18:19:33-05:00

From Your Farmer: August 2022

I was at a food show recently and talking with one of our local food partners (shout out to Northern Soda Company!) and we were discussing the many hats all business owners wear. In our case, from farm to market. Someone commented “you must be busy.” Well, yes, I have plenty to do, but I suspect all farmers and business owners would say the same. But I’ll let you in on my little secret: I don’t do any of this alone. In fact, I feel like I’ve had more time away from the farm than usual lately, with a mix of work travel, meetings, and some family trips sprinkled in. Every time I’m away, I’m reminded of what a capable team we have here at Ferndale, and this seems like a perfect chance to showcase all they’re working on each day. For a small business like ours, we have an incredibly diverse set of job descriptions and most folks are [...]

2022-08-24T17:47:04-05:00

From Your Farmer: July 2022

This is one of my favorite notes to write each year, because I get to personally invite you to visit our farm! I always love having company, and I especially enjoy the chance to pull back the curtain on our farm and Ferndale story, so our customers and fans can see our turkeys first-hand. In that spirit, I hope you can join us on Saturday, July 16th as we participate in the annual Co-op Farm Tour. For our part, we’ll be providing hay ride tours around the farm, so you can see our turkeys, our land, and hear what makes our Ferndale products unique. Days like this are special in agriculture, because they’re the missing link in the sea of typically-anonymous foods. We know how rare it is for a shopper to see the farm their food came from, and unfortunately, it’s even rarer for a farmer to stand face-to-face with the customers that are nourished by their efforts. And, [...]

2022-07-13T17:57:28-05:00

From Your Farmer: June 2022

In the world of grocery, we’re still rookies. When we got started in on-farm retail 14 years ago, we knew absolutely nothing. And, every time I’d think I had cracked the code, one of our earliest employees – herself a retail veteran – would remind me that retail is ever-changing. You’ll never figure it out. So, I love the chance to continue my education in the world of food retailing, and recently read “Becoming Trader Joe,” by (wait for it…), Joe Coulombe, a.k.a Trader Joe. By now, most of us loosely know the Trader Joe’s grocery strategy. Lots of exclusive private label brands, not too many options, and pyramids of unique specialties. What I didn’t know was that Joe had a term for the ideal products he was seeking out: “discontinuous” items. Imagine the opposite of the mass-produced national brands that are widely available; they’re in continuous supply. Instead, Trader Joe’s made it big in the early years by [...]

2022-07-13T17:53:12-05:00

From Your Farmer: May 2022

I’m an unabashed summer lover. I’m probably out-of-step with my profession, because extreme heat can be worrisome with turkeys, but I’d take most summer days over any day in January. I love the season that finds our birds outside on every corner of the farm, and I relish the long summer days that create the illusion of “bonus hours” to get that perennial one-more-thing accomplished. These days are also a great time to hit the road for a daytrip, so I’ll proudly sport my community spirit hat and encourage you to make a trip to see us in Cannon Falls! I’m a biker, so I think the Cannon Valley Trail is a hidden gem, running to the Mississippi River in Red Wing. If you’d rather be on the water, you can rent a canoe or tube to float the Cannon River. Either way, you should finish your ride with a local glass or pint at either Cannon River Winery [...]

2022-05-26T17:35:57-05:00

From Your Farmer: April 2022

There’s been a lot of news to follow lately, and it seems farmers – poultry in particular – find themselves in it too often right now. With all that’s happening, you’d be forgiven if you haven’t followed the movement in Washington DC to fuel more competition among the major meat companies. While it may not be a headline grabbing story, I’d bet it’s an issue near-and-dear to any farmer, particularly given the continued consolidation among the big global meat brands.  In the case of cattle, for instance, four companies control 85% of the beef market. The big just keep getting bigger. I’ll leave it to economists far smarter than me to untangle the impact this has on prices consumers pay at the grocery store. Speaking as a farmer, however, I know the consolidation has severely limited the outlets most farmers have to sell the animals they’ve worked so hard to raise. Of course, when there’s only one buyer at [...]

2022-04-18T18:53:15-05:00

Title