Some of John Peterson’s earliest childhood memories are of the evenings he spent helping his grandfather, Dale, corral turkeys back into the barn for the night. Growing up, he spent much of his time out with the birds and in seventh grade he was officially hired on as a farmhand.
During this time, much of the farm’s focus was still on hatching poults so John’s primary job was to “pick eggs”. This meant that every hour he would go into the barns and fields, collect the eggs the hens had laid in that time, clean them, and then bring them to the hatchery for incubation. John worked on the farm until he left home to attend college at Augustana University in 1999.
He studied Business & Communications and accepted a job in Admissions at his alma mater after graduating. Over the next few years, he and his wife, Erica, became more and more interested in food, who grows it, and how it gets to our dinner tables. In 2008, it became clear to John that he could combine his passion for business, partnerships, and food by returning to his family’s farm and helping transition to direct marketing, something their family had never done before.
John began talking with his parents about the idea and soon they made plans to open an on-farm store focused on locally grown and produced foods. Along with selling the family’s turkey directly on the farm, John aimed to wholesale it to other natural food stores throughout the Midwest.
Eleven years later, Ferndale Market turkey is carried in more than 75 retail stores, as well as numerous restaurants and cafeterias. This success has allowed the Petersons to work with additional local family farms, many helmed by other young farmers. These partnerships provide the opportunity to create stable futures for other families in agriculture. By raising birds out on grass and without the use of antibiotics, the Peterson family is excited to inspire a different pathway – for farming and our food.