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Inspiring Conversations with Desiree Nelson of Nelson Grass Farm

Today we’d like to introduce you to Desiree Nelson.

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
We started farming because it was a lifestyle we sought for our family. We wanted to raise quality meat and eggs for our family and do it on a larger scale to sell directly to customers. We both had experience working on a farm and with farm animals before moving out of the Twin Cities. The more we learned about farming, the more we wanted to have a regenerative pasture-based farm that starts with soil health. We have been farming since 2012 on our 76-acre farm. We raise chickens, and pigs, laying hens and cattle on pasture, always moving, except in the winter for us in MN. We have included these animals on our farm because they all play an important role in improving the soil health on our farm and orchestrate well together. We have also raised goats, lambs, and turkeys in the past. We discontinued raising them just for labor reasons. We continually balance our farm and family life and access our farm practices.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a smooth road?
I don’t think farming is ever smooth. So we started with his methods. We started learning all we could talk about our farming method from a farmer named Joel Salatin. We read his books, listened to his lectures, and visited his farm. It was a great place to start and learn what would work best for us in Minnesota on our farm.

In the beginning, we started with many animal groups; broiler chickens, laying hens, pigs, turkeys, and goats. As we grew our animal numbers, we soon learned that there were too many groups to be moving and set up our temporary electric fence. We eliminated turkeys and goats because of their cost to raise and hard to sell to make a profit. Instead, we worked on getting better at growing broiler chickens in larger groups, building bigger pasture shelters for them, and becoming more efficient in raising all the animals.

Balancing farm life with family life has always been a struggle for us. The work never ends, especially as we continue to grow our business bigger. My husband also works off the farm part-time to help with our family income. There is always something pulling at our time. Several years ago, we decided that all this work was worth it to us several years ago. And what we wanted in life if we were to continue farming. We set goals and try to eliminate extra work where we can. The past couple of years has been more enjoyable because of that. We even took a vacation in June this year, during peak farming season for us, to go camping in the Black Hills. It was a big accomplishment for us.

And there is always that difficult animal; keeping the pigs in an electric fence seems an eternal struggle! But it always comes back to human errors. We have had years where we have to track our pigs in the woods at the neighbors for 2 hours before we find them. For some years, we have had no problems. As our equipment gets older, we find more pig breakouts to deal with. Pigs are always testing, and when they figure out the fence isn’t giving them a shock, they go for walking adventures.

We’ve been impressed with Nelson Grass Farm, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
At Nelson Grass Farm, we raise nutrient-dense meat and eggs on pasture. We feed transitional organic feed with no soy to our omnivores in addition to the pasture. We move our broiler chickens daily to new grass; our pigs, laying hens, and cattle are all moved once a week or more to fresh pasture. We have about 25 acres of open grassy pastures where we raise our hens, broilers, and cattle. The pigs graze in our lower areas and wooded pastures. The cattle graze over the pig pasture areas too. We try to utilize all of our acres with appropriate animal pressure. After 10 years of farming here, we have noticed more plant species growing in our pastures, improved forage growth, and healthier animals from improved soil quality. We offer delivery of our products to the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, and Mora areas of MN. I have weekly deliveries, plus two retail stores carrying our eggs and meat—Minnesota Fresh Farm in East Bethel and ToxyFree in Stillwater. Our customers use our easy online store to set up delivery of their orders and enjoy my weekly email newsletter with updates on the farm.

What characteristic of yours would you give the most credit if you had to?
Hard work, not quitting quickly, and always learning and looking for knowledge to improve our farming and business.

Pricing:

  • Eggs $5.75/dozen
  • Whole Chickens $5.79/pound
  • Pork Bacon $11.75/pound
  • Cut ups of chicken range from $5.99-11/lb.
  • cut ups of pork range from $5-12/lb.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Desiree Nelson

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