Farm Happenings at Featherstone Farm
Back to Farm Happenings at Featherstone Farm

Jack on the Farm's First-Ever Stone Ground, All Purpose Flour!

Posted on February 22nd, 2022 by Featherstone Farm


Greetings CSA Members-

Included in your box this week- for those of you who use flour- is a brand new, first-of-its-kind “crop” from Featherstone Farm… stone ground, all purpose flour.   This one is so unique in the farm’s 25+ year history of vegetable production, that I think it deserves a bit of extra introduction.

Wheat Harvest last July

This flour is made from hard red wheat that Featherstone Farm produced over the past 2 years:  planted in the fall of 2020, harvested in July of 2021, shipped to our partners at Meadowlark Mills in Wisconsin in August, milled by Meadowlark in January of this year and then shipped back to us at FF.

What a process!   Why go to all this effort?

As it says on the bag, this is very largely about soil and environmental health at Featherstone Farm… the foundation for everything we do.  Annual vegetables can be pretty darn hard on soils… physically, and in terms of fertility and microbiological activity.  Very generally, this has to do with the amount of tillage we find it necessary to do, to establish good populations of relatively weak vegetable plants.  Adding a certain amount of fall planted wheat (a biennial crop) followed by no-till clover hay seeding, is a way to get a “crop” off of a field in our vegetable rotation, while taking a full 2 year break from plowing.

In addition, we are always looking for ways of interrupting disease, pest and weed cycles which develop over time in fields that are (over) planted in vegetable crops.   A two season “set aside” in wheat and hay is an ideal way of accomplishing this.

Plus… we get a tremendous secondary crop of clean, certified organic wheat straw, which you will see for yourself in the mulching of our strawberry patch when you come pick strawberries here in just four short months!  

And… of course you get wonderful wheat flour in your box this week (and well into the coming year).   If this isn’t a win-win-win-win situation, I don’t know what is!

2020-22 is a “pilot program” for wheat at Featherstone Farm.  Because we are in the midst of a 2 year drought in SE Minnesota, this first crop was remarkably productive, with relatively little stress (ie drag on the vegetable operation).  It is completely unclear if this would “work” in a wet year (moisture is the reason the wheat industry moved west after the boom years of the late 19th century).  Or whether or not growing wheat, even in dry years, is financially and operationally viable alongside a vegetable operation like Featherstone?

Only time -and careful documentation- will tell on these important questions.  In the meantime, we have thousands and thousands of pounds of grain stored at Meadowlark, which can and will be milled for CSA shares throughout 2022.   This week’s delivery is just the tip of the iceberg.   Please let us know what you think!   The more data points we have to consider (including CSA member feedback!), the better decisions we can make about wheat (flour!) and future projects like it.


This has been the single busiest winter I can recall in a long, long time at Featherstone Farm.  We have had great help from Veronica, Mayra and Ofelia washing a bumper carrot crop, thank goodness (first ever H2-A visa crew in winter months).  We have restructured our weekly operations schedule for 2022- including some CSA delivery days and sites- to allow key managers (and me!) the chance to have Sundays off work all summer for the first time in years.  We have refinanced 80% of the farm’s capital debt (just in time on interest rates!).  We have initiated new processes for formal leadership development and committee-based research and strategic planning.  We are about to finalize our 2022 budget and crop plans weeks and weeks ahead of previous years’ schedules.  And on top of it all, we are well into a “rebuild” of key farm housing, literally from the foundation up.  It’s been a busy, busy several months… whew!!

The good news is, so much of the heavy lifting is now done, that I believe the coming few months will be significantly less busy and pressure packed than the past several were.  Thank goodness for this!   As I write, Field Production Co-ordinator Abby Benson is getting on a plane to visit farmworkers in Mexico for a week+.  Business Manager Todd Bram is off work, preparing for his daughter’s wedding this afternoon (auspicious 2-22-22 date).  And Operations Manager Nathan Manfull is awaiting the arrival of a first son or daughter (Kristen is due any day now!!!).  Good luck K and N!!

So it feels very, very satisfying to have made so much progress on so many things all fall and early winter.  Nathan, Todd and Abby, Veronica, Mayra, Ofelia, James in the warehouse, Patty on the CSA program… this whole team has done heroic service for Featherstone Farm this winter.  We all owe these folks a debt of gratitude. 

And finally, one last note:  this upcoming delivery on March 2nd or 3rd is our last winter delivery of this seasonIf you've yet to join us for the upcoming summer, we still have shares available.  Sites are filling up fast, so please don't delay.  Just log into your account here.  Once you log in click on "My Farms," and then "Place an Order" to join us today!

Thank you very much for your support this winter!