30997 Zephyr Valley Lane
Rushford, MN 55971
Jack Hedin and Jenni McHugh planted their first crop, a small plot of strawberries, in 1995, and Featherstone mushroomed from there. In spring 1997, Jacks brother Ed arrived from Oregon, and together the three launched their first CSA season with twenty members and started the farmers market circuit. The following spring, Rhys Williams joined the team. Also from the Pacific Northwest, Rhys left commercial apple production behind, seeking work with a strong community connection.
Growth and progress were steady. Featherstone secured more farm implements and even a 3600-square-foot greenhouse for tomato production. In 1999, Ed decided to leave the farm for new endeavors, and Rhys became a full partner. The farm continued to grow with dozens of CSA members in nearby Rochester, more field acres, and the construction of new hoophouses through a grant from the state of Minnesota.
In 2000, Jack and Rhys took a modified approach to Featherstone. No more growth in scale, but increased efficiency with existing land and crops. Today they have 53 acres on which are grown heirloom tomatoes, broccoli, garlic, lettuce, cabbage, cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, summer and winter squash, potatoes, kale, collards, bok choi, and Napa cabbage. All crops are certified organic by Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA).
Jack and Jenni have three sons, Emmet, Oscar and Jasper, and Rhys and his wife, Tracy, have two daughters, Hayley and Devin. The kids help out at farmers market, while Jenni has recently cut back a bit on farm responsibilities. Rhys handles hiring and labor, CSAs and markets, greenhouse production, pest and disease control, and, indoors, the recordkeeping. Hes partial to soil science and entomology, too. Jack does field planning and preparation, planting and cultivating, and wholesale development.
Why is growing organic a priority for your family?
Organic food production is one part of a healthy world. We have to take a measured approach to our interaction with the earth and realize there are consequences to our actions.
Whats your favorite part of being an organic farmer?
In organic farming, you are encouraging life and doing your best to sustain it. From the microorganisms in the soil to the beneficial insects, you are working with what is present rather than changing it.
What is your least favorite part?
High humidity and mosquito-sphere.
Why should people buy organic products instead of other options?
Its one of the keys to healthier people and a healthier world. We need to make it affordable so everyone can benefit.
What makes your farm special?
The people who work with us.
Where would you like your business to be next year? In the next 5 years? 10?
Financially stable, focused, with opportunities for others to learn from our mistakes and successes.
Where can consumers get your products?
You can find our produce at the Rochester Farmers Market and at grocery stores and food co-ops in the area. We also run a 180 member CSA (community supported agriculture) program from Late May through October. Our members enjoy over 50 different types of seasonal fruits and vegetables, picked fresh and delivered to drop sites in their neighborhood once a week.