The post is sponsored by Ferndale Market.
Cooling days and changing leaves mark the beginning of the Peterson family’s favorite season. The Petersons are the multi-generational farming family behind Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls. They raises antibiotic-free turkeys year round, but their work comes full circle as Thanksgiving approaches. This is the eighth year that the Petersons will sell their turkeys under their Ferndale Market label. The birds can be found at the on-farm store of the same name and at many natural food stores around the region.
The name Ferndale is a nod to Fern and Dale Peterson, the first generation to raise turkeys in Cannon Falls, beginning in 1939. Fern and Dale’s son Dick and his wife, Jane, joined the farm in the ’70s. Third-generation farmer John and his wife, Erica, got involved in 2008.
The family continues to raise turkeys the same way that Dale did when he first came to Cannon Falls — without shortcuts.
The Petersons take pride in raising their birds without the use of antibiotics or growth promotants, and in feeding them a natural diet of grains, vitamins, and minerals from a local feed mill. During the warmer months, the turkeys spend their time roaming on range, moving to fresh grass every week. The Petersons have a dedicated staff — with over a hundred years of collective farming experience — who help care for the turkeys. One employee was hired by Dale more than 50 years ago.
In 2008, the Petersons decided, with the encouragement of the third generation, to open an on-farm store to sell their own products and to support other local farmers by providing them with a marketplace. In an era in which most people don’t know where their food comes from, the store helps connect people with the independent farmers and food producers in their backyard. Customers can find a wide variety of food items from more than 70 local farmers and food producers. From pork chops to artisanal cheese to pasta, the shelves are stocked with everything needed to create a delicious and truly local meal.
As Thanksgiving approaches, the Peterson family looks forward to seeing familiar faces and hearing stories from folks who have enjoyed Ferndale Market turkeys at the Thanksgiving table in past years. “That’s immensely rewarding for us,” says Dick Peterson, the farm production manager. John Peterson, the general manager, added, “We’ve been thrilled at the positive response our turkeys have received from home cooks, chefs, and schools. We take pride in the way we raise our birds and feel fortunate to have loyal customers who see the value in that.”
Starting today (Monday, Oct. 26), fresh Thanksgiving turkeys may be ordered through the Ferndale Market website or by calling 507.263.4556. If you aren’t able to travel to Cannon Falls to purchase your turkey, you can find a list of Ferndale’s Thanksgiving retail partners here.
Ferndale Market will hold its annual TurkeyFest!, a two-day celebration of the season, on Nov. 21 and 22. It features a free turkey-cooking class taught by a chef (advance registration required), many delicious samples, live music, and the season’s first opportunity to purchase a fresh turkey. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 21, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 22.