From Your Farmer

From Your Farmer: September 2023

Any farmer will tell you there’s a universal law that extra work always stacks up on a holiday.  That’s the spot we found ourselves in this Labor Day. As an employer, I wish nobody had to work on a holiday, but we haven’t trained the turkeys to take a day off, so our team rotates through the holidays to share the load. This Labor Day was different, though, because of the extreme heat in the forecast. I knew we’d need to spray our oldest flock all day to keep them comfortable. On hot days, we use a tractor and water tank to drive through our range, spraying our turkeys to keep them cool and moving toward water. Top that off with a long-scheduled turkey loading that evening, and we’d have a lot of folks working hard this Labor Day: people spraying turkeys, people loading turkeys, truck drivers transporting turkeys. At one point from the loader, I looked out and [...]


From Your Farmer: August 2023

We had BLTs and sweet corn for dinner last night. Matter of fact, we’ve been having tomatoes and sweet corn almost daily lately. Since opening Ferndale, I’ve made it a personal goal to go a little over-the-top when local produce is in season. It starts in late May when asparagus is fresh, continues in June with strawberries, and these days I’m hooked on heirloom tomatoes. I’m a believer that we should savor (or even go a little over-the-top) when the best produce is coming from our own backyard. Of course, we are now into absolute peak produce season in Minnesota. At Ferndale Market, we’re excited to say we have everything from apples to zucchini. There was an era when people talked a lot about food miles, the surprising distance most food travels to our plate. This time of year, it’s a more compelling argument to frame it all around freshness and quality; peak season local produce simply tastes better. [...]


From Your Farmer: July 2023

This is one of my favorite notes to write each year because I have the chance to personally invite you to our farm. Yes, we’re hosting our annual Summer Farm Tour day this Saturday morning from 9:30-11:30.  We’ll be doing hayride tours through the farm and we’ll have samples to try in the market. I’ll be playing tour guide on one of the wagons, and I sincerely love the interaction with our customers and fans. These farm tour days embody what makes independent farms like ours so unique. Of course, you’ll get to see first-hand the distinctive farming practices we still use, but it’s also my hope that the spirit of transparency is refreshing in our world of big meat brands, supported by completely anonymous farms and practices. We so rarely know the who, where, why, and how questions behind our food system. As I always say, we strive to do something different here. Days like Saturday are our [...]


From Your Farmer: June 2023

They say the only constant is change. I’ve definitely learned that to be true in the world of retail. Or, in the wise words of our first retail clerk, Marlene Willis, “You’ll never figure out retail. If you think you have, it changes!” Yes, we’ve learned quite a bit in our 15 years at Ferndale Market and one of those lessons has been to keep adapting. We want to keep your experience fresh with each visit, so we’ve attempted to keep adapting to be an enjoyable visit for our customers. In that spirit, a lot has changed at Ferndale Market over the past few months. If you’ve been in, you’ve likely seen our new produce cooler as a very visible change in our space. We’re excited both to be regularly stocking more produce and also have a better set-up to ensure peak freshness when you take it home. Along with our expanded mix of local and organic fruits and [...]


From Your Farmer: May 2023

I think nearly every Midwesterner would agree that this winter carried on at least a month too long, and I rejoice at these great spring days we’re having as I write this. Suddenly, our grass is growing inches a day, the neighborhood frogs are back, and the plant rack has made its annual appearance in front of the market. This time of year is also the start of my favorite season here on the farm. Our springtime is marked by unlatching barn doors to turn our flocks back outside after winter, and then chasing flocks from our outside barnyards to our ranging pastures. This time of year makes our free-range practices so visible with our flocks back outside. For those of us on the farm, it’s a daily reminder of the very different way our turkeys live. Funny thing is, this is just standard operating procedure around here. Far from being something we do purely for a marketing point-of-difference, [...]


From Your Farmer: April 2023

I think it’s natural to romanticize farming, or maybe business ownership in general. One of my mottos here is that we should try to solve problems so our customers don’t have to. In today’s business speak, we’re trying to eliminate pain points, so we work hard to make it all look easy. But, as any business owner would tell you, sometimes there’s just a lot to be done. I had a recent weekend here that didn’t go quite according to plan, and I thought it could be an enlightening glimpse into the less glamorous parts of owning a farm or business. Here’s the string of events: Friday evening: we were going out to dinner with friends, so I was working hard to sneak out early. On my way out, I got a call from our market that the cash register had crashed so our staff wasn’t able to ring up customers. I did my best to put a temporary [...]


From Your Farmer: March 2023

Out of nowhere, everybody seems to know the price of a dozen eggs. We’ve grown all-too-accustomed to this by now. The last three years have taught us to lurch from empty shelves to price hikes. Between pandemic-induced supply chain issues, inflation, and changes in our shopping behaviors, we sure spend more time thinking about the complex levers that impact our food prices. But, back to the price of eggs for a moment. I’m happy to tell you that our price for a dozen eggs hasn’t budged a bit ($4.49, since you asked). In fact, I think it’s been over a year since we’ve adjusted our egg price. Why are we so unique? The story of eggs demonstrates the beauty of a local food system. Our local egg farmer isn’t selling onto the global commodity market, so the eggs on our shelf don’t pass through brokers, warehouses, or big egg companies. Our farmer’s eggs pass directly from her farm to [...]


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 [...]


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, [...]


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 [...]