Janaki Fisher-Merritt owns Food Farm with his wife, Annie Dugan, and operates it with his parents, John and Jane Fisher-Merritt, and long-time employee Dave Hanlon. Located in Wrenshall, Minnesota, 25 miles southwest of Duluth, Food Farm raises about thirteen acres of vegetables, and sells them over an extended season by storing crops in their high-tech root cellar. In 2010, they were selected as the Organic Farmers of the Year by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service.
Food Farm was started by Janaki’s parents in the late 1980s. Janaki shares the story of the farm’s development in the late 1980s and early 1990s, how they developed a market for local food and CSA in their area, and Janaki’s gradual assumption of responsibility and eventual ownership of the farm.
In addition to 200 summer CSA shares and a significant amount of wholesale sales, Food Farm packs about 150 CSA shares all winter long. We dig into Food Farm’s amazing root cellar, which combines traditional techniques with modern technology to create a facility that is practical and efficient. Janaki walks us through the development of their root cellar, the creation of a second-generation version, and the nuts and bolts of how they keep storage crops fresh into March and beyond.
Janaki also explains their wood-heated transplant production system, and the steps they’ve taken to make that energy-efficient in a climate where heating bills in March can be much more outrageous than on the average Minnesota vegetable farm.
We also delve into Janaki’s involvement with his local non-farming community through the school board and a film festival, and how having something outside the farm – including, recently, a couple of children! – has enriched and balanced Janaki’s life, and the life of his family.
Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company and BCS America.
Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/foodfarm.