Featherstone Farm’s mission is to grow and share great natural vegetables, showing personal growth and sustainability through not only the members, but also the land. And as one of few customized CSA farm share programs in Minnesota, Featherstone Farm has excelled in its 25-year run.
Featherstone Farm is a 250-acre certified organic farm located in Bluff Country near Rushford, Minn. The farm is a major supplier of organic vegetables to the region. Featherstone grows close to 70 varieties of produce for distribution to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members, as well as co-ops, restaurants, grocers and wholesalers throughout Bluff Country. They deliver on the farm-to-table movement of locally sourced food.
The farm is named after Featherstone Township in Goodhue County, Minn., where Hedin’s great-grandfather Alexander Pierce Anderson was raised and farmed in the 19th century.
Anderson was born in 1862 in Featherstone Township. After a fire ravaged his home in the late 19th century, Anderson left the farm to study botany at the University of Minnesota. He taught at a one-room schoolhouse nearby for nearly three decades, was a farmer, an inventor and traveled the globe. In the early 1900s Anderson returned to Featherstone Township to start a family and
purchase the original homestead and farmland around it. By the roaring 20s, Anderson was farming nearly 500 acres, and experimented with grain cultivars.
Anderson was known for having an eye for danger in the soil, even before the dust bowl loomed its ugly head on American farmland. As a trained botanist, he was able to notice how the local high prairie grass was negatively affecting his crops, which led to his indulgence in conservationism.
In 1932, Anderson’s observations and findings were published in a memoir titled “The Seventh Reader.” Included was his take on the sustainability of the homestead dating back to his youth. The memoir contains descriptions of the importance of humanity’s influence on the environment. Altogether, these passages are a collection and reflection of one man’s desire to give back to the local area in which he grew through conservation and sustainable practices. These personal writings are what inspired Anderson’s great-grandson Hedin to follow in the footsteps of his patriarch.
Founded in 1994 by Jack Hedin and wife Jenni McHugh, Featherstone Farm began as a mere five-acre operation in rural Winona. Hedin, McHugh and four others founded the Zephyr Valley Community Land Cooperative in Winona. The pair began farming the acreage on that property and were certified organic in 1996. The Winona acreage was the official “home” of Featherstone Farms until 2007.
In 2003, Featherstone Farm began leasing additional land around the Rushford area. And after a catastrophic 2007 flood devastated the Winona acreage, the entire operation moved to Rushford. There, Featherstone has rented more acreage each year, resulting in more organic management to allow healthier soil to grow crops.
In the last decade, Featherstone Farm invested in solar energy, and shed roof solar panels now provide enough energy to power over half the farm’s operations. Featherstone received a USDA grant in 2011 to upgrade pastures to protect the Root River watershed.
Featherstone has recently developed a new program, Featherstone Farm Community Food Fund, which supports donations to the Channel One Food Bank in Rochester and many other community food shelves and local organizations.
Featherstone Farm offers five CSA programs, including summer and winter share CSAs, with temporary pickup site locations for a busy schedule. They also offer CSA memberships to those in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Winona, Minn., and La Crosse, Wis.
Additional perks include annual CSA member events, online recipe guides with tips on vegetable storage, an online newsletter and a healthy guide to seasonal purchasing for those wanting to decrease their carbon footprint.
For more information on Featherstone Farms, visit featherstonefarm.com.