I’m not used to winning awards.  I must be too old for the everybody-gets-a-trophy era, and my own abilities have rarely proven award winning.  In our family, our trophy heyday came over 80 years ago, when my great grandparents took turkeys to regional and national competitions to show their birds.  We have the trophies and platters to prove that my ancestors were true award-winners, but we’ve had a long dry spell since.

This experience probably explains why I didn’t think to stick around for the awards ceremony at the Feast Festival in December.   So, you can imagine my surprise when I learned the next morning that Ferndale Market had been given the “Inspiring Social Benefit Award,” which recognizes a business model that incorporates community values and social benefit causes.  Needless to say, I was incredibly surprised and honored.

I believe business can – and should – be a force for good.  Change can be spurred in many ways, and I’ve seen that business has the ability to efficiently and sustainably change systems.  When done properly, businesses can extend opportunity, and enrich their communities.  It’s why we consciously source local, so we can drive demand and create change in our food system.  It’s why we try to give back what we can, to support the vitality of our own community and neighbors.  We’ve tried to do our small part to expand opportunity to fellow farmers and food makers, which is why it was such a joy to see the Feast “People’s Choice Award” go to Cannon Falls’ own CannonBelles!

There’s also a pay-it-forward aspect here, because we benefited from the experience and wisdom of so many others as we began direct-marketing our turkey: Lorentz Meats, Thousand Hills Cattle Company, Hidden Stream Farm.  We’d have made more mistakes without their mentorship, and we strive to do the same for others.  It’s especially rewarding to see what a local food and beverage economy has spawned in Cannon Falls, with Tilion Brewing, Cannon River Winery, Sogn Valley Farm, Falls Landing, and the other partners I mentioned above.  We all win together.

Since I unknowingly forfeited my shot at a long and rambling award acceptance speech, thanks for giving me the chance here!  We’ll keep doing our part, alongside so many others, and continue toward a food system that supports local foods and independent farmers.