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Rural Dakota farm couple’s switch to direct marketing has gone well

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Frickson Family Farms

Andy and Darienne Frickson, with their Great Pyrenees Dolly, own and operate Frickson Family Farms in rural Dakota, Minn. They raise antibiotic-free and hormone-free meats, pastured chickens and eggs, and produce including pumpkins.

DAKOTA, Minn. — Andy and Darienne Frickson’s switch from dairy farming to direct marketing of the meats and produce that come from their Frickson Family Farms west of Dakota, Minn., has gone better than they expected.

The small retail store that Amish craftsmen built on their farm at 40221 County Road 104 opened in the spring of 2020 and is open from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

“With the holidays coming up, we’ll probably be open a few more days, especially in December,” Andy said. “A lot of people like to give the gift of meat.”

From spring through fall, a smaller selection of the farm’s products is available at the nearby Amish-built self-serve stand that the Fricksons added last spring. It’s open daily during daylight hours, is based on the honor system and has such products as eggs, meat snack sticks and produce.

The Fricksons also offer free delivery of their products within 30 miles – a radius that includes both La Crosse and Winona. And they wholesale some of their products to area restaurants, convenience stores and campgrounds.

Frickson Family Farms also sells products from its website. It ships to customers within Minnesota and surrounding states.

In 2013, the Fricksons married and bought their 160-acre farm from Andy’s grandparents.

Frickson Family Farms

Pork, beef, and poultry are all available at the on-farm store at Frickson Family Farms at 40221 County Road 104, Dakota, Minn.

They got out of dairy farming in 2019 because of low prices. “We were also selling beef,” Darienne said. “We would sell quarters and halves to family and friends to supplement our income, because dairy farming just wasn’t enough.”

Before leaving dairy farming, the Fricksons decided to go into direct marketing of their own meat and produce products.

“It’s gone way better than expected,” Andy said.

“One reason is that the consumer has been pandemic-driven,” Darienne said. “But I also think our generation wants to know where their food is coming from. They’re eager to know where their food is sourced from.”

Some restaurants have had difficulty getting certain products from their traditional suppliers because of disruptions in supply chains due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Andy said.

From the livestock they raise on their farm, the Fricksons sell beef, pork, pastured chickens and free-range eggs. Meats are available in bulk or in individual cuts and packages. Specialty products, such as sausage and snack sticks, also are available.

The farm’s meat products are processed by Dover Processing in Dover, Minn., which is inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As for produce, sweet corn has been a big seller for Frickson Family Farms. This fall, the Fricksons have been selling home-grown pumpkins, Indian corn, potatoes, square bales of straw and corn shocks.

Frickson Family Farms

Laying hens pass the day in their coop at Frickson Family Farms in rural Dakota, Minn.

Their farm store also carries handcrafted items made by family, friends and other area residents, such as wooden crafts, custom embroidered aprons and hand-knitted scarves. It also sells some western wear and accessories, and Frickson Family Farms apparel.

“We’ve added dairy products from WW Homestead Dairy out of Waukon, Mike’s Salsa and Seasonings products out of St. Charles, Minn., and billie’s kitchen products,” Darienne said. She explained that billie’s kitchen is operated by a neighbor who makes and sells such things as soup, skillet meal and cookie mixes.

“We would love to incorporate more local products” in their on-farm store, Darienne said.

The busiest time of year at the on-farm store is from September through December. “It’s the holiday season,” Andy said.

“And people are stocking up for the winter,” Darienne added.

“One reason is that the consumer has been pandemic-driven. But I also think our generation wants to know where their food is coming from. They’re eager to know where their food is sourced from.”

Darienne Frickson, farmer

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