Cannon Falls' Ferndale Market thrives through three generations of turkey farmers

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Cannon Falls has a strong history of family-owned businesses, passed down from one generation to the next. Among them is the Ferndale Market, sitting just off Highway 52. Starting as a turkey farm in 1939, these days 160,000 birds come out of the free-range operation each year.

“[The turkeys] have the option to be outside day or night and kind of roam this whole area,” said Madison Taylor, who works at Ferndale Market. “When they are a little bit older they will be moved out their shelters and their food and water will be out there and they are free to be in this whole pasture as they want.”

Dale Peterson got the operation going and his son, Dick and his wife Jane, helped it continue to grow. By 2008, Dick and Jane’s son, John, was instrumental in transforming the old hatchery into the Ferndale Market.

Producing a variety of turkey products and partnering with roughly 100 small local businesses and growers in the region, Jane Peterson refers to the Cannon Falls location as the flagship store.

“This is Dale’s desk from the original days, so we enjoy having that piece of history,” said Jane Peterson, an owner of Ferndale Market.

Three generations of turkey farming and taking pride in buying locally and supporting the local economy for this family is what it’s all about.  

“It is part of farm life, so it’s a really great gift to be able to do that and work together,” said Jane.

Not only are the Ferndale Market products available in Cannon Falls, they are also sold at Kowalski’s and several co-ops in the Twin Cities metro area. Ferndale also has contracts with 25 school districts, so anytime students at Minneapolis Public Schools or St. Paul Public Schools eat a turkey burger or a hot dog at the school lunch, those turkeys are coming from the farm right in Cannon Falls.