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MN SFA hosts fourth Festival of Farms July 13

By Carol Stender
cstender@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 07/15/2013 9:59 AM

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MONTROSE, Minn. — A Festival of Farms will be held July 13 featuring tours, demonstrations, food, fellowship and networking.

This is the fourth year the Minnesota Sustainable Farming Association has hosted the statewide event.

"The Festival of Farms is a family-friendly event with local chapters of SFA hosting field days and providing farmer-to-farmer and farmer-to consumer networking opportunities throughout Minnesota," said Jim Chamberlin, SFA board member from Deerwood.

Several farms from the Central, Crow Wing and Lake Agassiz SFA Chapters will be featured on the tours including Jack and Betsy McCann's True Cost Farm near Montrose.

They started their farming venture in 2009 planning to grow food for their own needs. The McCanns chose different slow-growth chicken breeds and their operation grew as they talked to others about their farming methods.

"We decided to find others who have similar views and built a group where we could cooperatively offer monthly deliveries of the highest quality meats available," Jack said. "My wife and I started True Cost Farm."

The McCanns market mostly through word of mouth and through various CSA directories and are delivering meat packages to 200 families, Jack said.

They raise cows, Icelandic sheep, broilers and laying hens, ducks, turkeys and guinea hogs in a rotational grazing system.

The biggest challenge they have is growing fast enough to meet demand, Jack said.

"There are so many different areas to learn about from health regulations to distribution plans to house to raise animals and finding the best processors," he said.

The McCann's True Cost Farm is part of the Crow River Chapter's Festival of Farm Tour. Also featured during the tour is JPR Acres, Sweet Beet Farm and Prairie Sun Farm.

Crow River Chapter's Festival of Farms starts at the Farm Market Cafe in Onamia. Barb Eller and her husband, Paul, helped open the Farm Market Cafe in 2011 where locally produced foods are used to prepare the meals.

The couple lives on the family farm her parents, Richie and Fran, started in 1947 with, as Barb puts it, "20 acres, recycled boards, tar paper and a dream."

They raise grass-fed beef with Galloway, Shorthorn and Hereford genetics and added heritage Tamworth hogs in 2008.

The Central Chapter's Festival of Farms starts at Market Cafe in Onamia. Visitors will learn about the Farm Market Cafe business model and tour the cafe's high tunnel. Besides the Eller Family Farm, they also will tour Dutch Fury Farm.

Lake Agassiz Chapter's event, a farmer-to-farmer networking event, takes place on Marie and Bob Petry's GrassStain Farm in Wolverton.

A farm tour will showcase GrassStain Farm's grazing paddocks, eggmobile, pastures pen poultry, small Jersey herd, new cover crop project and a new high tunnel.