In 2012, back when the Cannon Falls-based Ferndale Market was “only” 73 years old, local artist J.C. Lovely spent a day at the turkey farm as part of the first annual Food & Bev Poster Show by Chowgirls Catering. The poster he came up with encapsulated everything that makes Ferndale Market turkeys different: a strong, healthy turkey made up of words and phrases like “free range,” “antibiotic free,” “out in the pasture,” “sustainable,” and, standing out in spring green as the turkey wattle, “pure.”
“Pure” really is the best way to describe Ferndale Market’s turkeys, whether you buy a whole turkey, turkey cuts, or smoked turkey products. It all starts with how Ferndale Market takes care of its birds. This, more than anything, demonstrates how much they value animal husbandry and the animal itself.
Baby turkeys, called poults, arrive at Ferndale Market within a day after they hatch, and their first home is the balmy indoor brooder barn where they spend their days walking around on soft sawdust and being hand fed and watered. Once they get older, the turkeys live outdoors and are free to roam, rotated on a fresh pasture every week. No antibiotics, additives, fillers, or saline solutions ever enter the raising and production processes. Because of that, the turkeys taste better—the dark meat in particular is extra rich because of all the muscle the free-range turkeys can develop.
The Peterson family, who started Ferndale Market in 1939 and has owned it for three generations, may have refined the processes over the years, but its free range and all-natural practices have been in place since Day One.
“It’s not only better for the birds but better for us, for our staff, for our land, and ultimately the consumers that are enjoying the turkey products,” owner John Peterson says in a video about Ferndale Market turkeys. “He [founder and grandfather Dale Peterson] really believed that the best contribution he could make to the world was to grow happy, healthy turkeys for the average American family with affordable food, and we still stand by that legacy today.”
Ferndale Market turkeys can be found at stores all over the Upper Midwest, but people are always welcome at the farm itself. The on-site grocery is open seven days a week, offering Ferndale Market’s full line of turkey products and other local foods, and this fall the farm is holding two special events.
The first, Fall Open House, takes place during the city-wide festival Flavor of the Falls. On October 5, the Peterson family will be hosting a complimentary turkey hot dog lunch and live music, and other local food samples and hay rides will be available as well. The second fall event on November 23 and 24 is TurkeyFest: here, people can pick up their fresh Thanksgiving turkey from the Ferndale Market grocery and shop for additional delicious Thanksgiving foods.
Whether you go in person to the farm grocery or find your turkey products at your local retailer, the clear taste and high quality of the turkey will evoke the same description for you as it did for J.C. Lovely: pure.
Want to source a Ferndale Market turkey? You can find one near you with their online locator.