Feature Image: John Peterson, owner of Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls. Ferndale turkeys grow naturally, without the use of antibiotics or artificial growth promotants, and they enjoy constant access to a diet of grains, vitamins, and minerals from a local feed mill.

What’s one of the most common questions a turkey farmer gets? According to John Peterson of Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls, people want to know if he still eats turkey. “I eat A TON of turkey,” said Peterson, who is one of SMIF’s Board of Trustees.

Peterson, a third generation turkey farmer, believes in their product, so that definitely helps the turkey sandwiches go down easier. And he should: his family’s farm uses a lot of distinct practices while still providing quality turkey at a reasonable price to consumers. “Our birds still have outdoor access,” said Peterson. “They all carry a free-range claim and all of our products carry a ‘raised without antibiotics’ claim. That model is distinctively different than what you’d find from most other turkey companies today.”

Ferndale Market will be an exhibitor at the upcoming Feast! Local Food Marketplace at Rochester on December 1-2. This is their fourth year at Feast! “In the first couple years, we came because we knew it was going to be a local food show featuring farmers and makers from our region, so we felt that we needed to be there,” said Peterson. “Along the way, Feast! has become the premier local food show in the region.”

Peterson and his family raise and sell turkeys, both wholesale to local schools and colleges, chefs, grocery stores and co-ops, but they also sell at their local food store in Cannon Falls, Ferndale Market. Feast! has provided them an excellent way to connect with new partners on all sides of their operation, from new wholesale vendors to other local food producers who they can carry in the market.

Feast Exhibitor Spotlight Ferndale Market 02

Ferndale Market embodies the local ethic throughout its business model. “Our baby turkeys are purchased locally and our feed is purchased locally. All of our processing, from slaughter to smoked sausages, happens in Minnesota at other independent processors, so our model keeps dollars turning through the local economy,” said Peterson. To him, local is bigger than a geographic definition; what’s most important is that a business thinks about how it’s supporting neighbors while still providing a quality product.

Peterson feels grateful to be located in Cannon Falls, where there’s a collaborative network of other local food makers, include award-winning CannonBelles Cheese, Lorentz Meats, and Raw Bistro (dog food). “I often take for granted the number of opportunities we have to cross-pollinate,” said Peterson. “It can be as small as us hauling product for one another to larger things like research and development helping us identify new markets.”

Interested in trying some of Ferndale Market’s turkey and keeping your food dollars local? Mark your calendar for Saturday, December 2! They’ll once again be attending the 2017 Feast! Local Foods Marketplace festival for their fourth consecutive year.

You can sip, sample and buy from over 100 other exhibit booths and enjoy cooking demos featuring locally sourced recipes. The Feast! Local Foods Marketplace festival even provides a fun activity area for children!

Visit Ferndale Market at their retail shop at 31659 Willow Trail, Cannon Falls, MN 55009. They’re open 10 am-6 pm weekdays, 10 am-5 pm Saturdays, and 11 am-4 pm on Sundays. Starting October 23, you can order your Ferndale Thanksgiving Turkey!