Morning Joy Farm -- 21st century homesteading
Meet: Annie and John Carlson, sustainable, diversified, direct-market farmers near Mercer.
• Products: Pastured chicken and turkeys; pastured hogs; grass-fed sheep; two grass-fed milk cows; food truck with local meats; value-added baked goods and foods from on-farm commercial kitchen; catering.
• Three home-schooled children, ages 8, 7, 6.
• Resided at farm near Cleveland in North Dakota, then purchased and moved to Annie’s parents’ farm near Mercer.
• In 2012, transitioned from community-supported agriculture gardening to Morning Joy Farm with livestock, poultry, sustainable production practices. Farm served by McLean Electric Cooperative.
• Inspiration/education: Joel Salatin, author of “Pastured Poultry Profits” and “You Can Farm,” stockman Allan Nation, Greg Judy, holistic management, Josh Dukart, Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society and N.D. Grazing Lands Coalition.
• Annie says: “Diversity is the name of the game on our farm. We want as many things covering that ground as possible, for two reasons: the first is we want to make money on every acre and so we want as many enterprises to cross that acre as we can. That increases your profitability per acre, exponentially. If you are just grazing cattle, then you just get one paycheck off that acre. But if you are grazing cattle, with sheep, and then you’re running chickens across it, and then the laying hens come through, and then follow up with turkeys later in the season, now you’ve got five paychecks per acre.”
• Morning Joy Farm production priority: place and rotate poultry and livestock to restore, sustain land as naturally fertile and productive.
• Learn more, order products, visit Morning Joy Farm, get acquainted with Carlsons: email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.morningjoyfarm.com.
Commissioner Goehring big local foods booster
From staff reports
N.D. Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says local food producers are expanding choices for consumers. (photo by Kent Brick)
The N.D. Department of Agriculture plays an active and supportive role in the success of local food producers and farmers markets.
“This makes sense for us because food comes from agriculture,” says N.D. Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “Agriculture is for everyone – even for the consumer. He adds that the variety of local food being offered expands the food options from which consumers are able to choose.
“With ours being a state that produces well over 52 different commodities now, what a great way to utilize these local foods,” Goehring says. He adds that many of the locally grown and processed foods are popular with consumers because of their health benefits. “This is about more balanced nutritional packages for families,” he says.
Sponsorship of the North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association and Local Foods Conference is one prominent level of support the N.D. Department of Agriculture provides for local food producers. In addition, the department publishes the “North Dakota Local Foods Directory” with the 2016-17 edition being the latest in that series.
Goehring says periods of depressed prices for major crops – like current times – do prompt conventional farmers’ interest in local food merchandising.
“Some farmers are incorporating vegetable gardens and fruit-bearing trees into their agricultural operations, because they're trying to keep more people at home or to create another source of revenue for the farm,” he says.
For anyone curious or interested in exploring, or entering the local foods distribution community in the state, Goehring says, “Try your hand at it.” He indicates that this is how most local foods producers get their start, and they often experience success.
“That’s because people want to buy local,” Goehring says, “and they want to meet the person that’s growing it.”