Laura Frerichs owns and operates Loon Organics with her husband, Adam Cullip, in Hutchinson, Minnesota. Loon Organics grosses $200,000 on 8 acres of produce and 10,000 square feet of high tunnels, providing for a CSA, local retailers, farm-to-table restaurants, and the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis. Six employees keep the farm humming and beautiful.
Laura and Adam started farming at their current location in 2009, after several years incubating at Gardens of Eagan in Farmington, Minnesota, and several years before that of working on farms of different scales around the country and the world. Laura shares her experience as an incubatee, including the investment and business growth strategies Loon Organics used to provide a running start once they landed on their own place.
Laura also shares her experience farming with children, and how that prompted her and Adam to invest in improving their quality of life by improving their utilization of employees. We dig into some of the practical aspects of employee delegation at all levels. We also talk marketing, electric tractors, post-harvest handling, and growing broccoli all year.
The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.
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Quotes from the Show
It did take about seven years for us to feel like we are now at a point of stability, we’re not in this growth period anymore. It’s great to be there.
Every year that we have farmed, we have become better farmers.
I have the bookwork, and newsletters, and emails, and all of that stuff, which was happening after work, in the evenings, and that totally blows. You have no time as a couple or with your kids if you’re stressed about writing the newsletter for the next day.
As farmers, we’re like, “You’ve just got to work harder and faster.” In the last few years we’ve said, “Let’s take a step back and try something else.”
We’ve tried to set some limits on what we’re willing to do for the business. It will take everything that you’ll give it. There’s an unending amount of work on the farm, at some point we have to call it good and be okay with that.
Having kids allowed us to really step up and say, this is really important, we need to do this for our family, we need to do this for our business, because we’re not going to keep farming if we burn ourselves out.
If you’re growing beautiful, nutritious, wonderful produce, get the mud off and let people see that!
Laura and Adam use Sustane fertilizer on their farm.
According to Laura, Stevie Wonder’s Greatest Hits is the best music for packing CSA boxes, and Charlie Parr has been the soundtrack for transplanting behind their electric tractor.