Farmers for Spirit Creek Farm take over production side of business
Three farms in Wrenshall, Minnesota, produce cabbage and other produce for ingredients to Spirit Creek Farm products.
The farmers at Northern Harvest Farm, Uff-da Organics and Food Farm — who have been growing cabbage and other produce for Spirit Creek Farm products for over a decade — are now the kraut makers too.
The line of products made by Spirit Creek Farm will now be made in the same community where all the produce is grown, in Wrenshall, a city in Carlton County, Minnesota, where the three farms operate.
Northern Harvest Farm and Uff-da Organics (owned by Adam and Jackie Kemp) both grow cabbage, carrots, onions and beets, while Food Farm (owned by Janaki Fisher-Merritt and Annie Dugan) also grows daikon radish and garlic.
Rick and Karola Dalen of Northern Harvest Farm said they have been working very closely with Jennifer and Andrew Sauter-Sargent, the founders of Spirit Creek Farm, to ensure that all recipes and practices are identical.
The Sauter-Sargent family established a reputation for exceptional quality, said Rick Dalen, that they intend to continue.
Formerly, production of Spirit Creek Farm products was done in Cornucopia, Wisconsin, which is about an hour and a half away from Wrenshall.
"We had been supplying Spirit Creek Farm with cabbage for the last 15 years," said Rick Dalen of their farm, Uff-da Organics and Food Farm.
Two years ago, Jennifer and Andrew Sauter-Sargent notified the farms they were not going to continue with the business.
"And so at that point, we were just kind of like, well that's a bummer," said Rick Dalen. "But then we got to thinking about it, and we're like, gosh, maybe we could take it on, and maybe it would allow us to employ our farm workers in the winter."
He said that second part was especially important to their farm.
"We've had farm workers who've become a big, important part of our farm, and they kind of have to scramble for work in the winter," said Dalen. "So this basically allows them to work year round."
He said it also continues the product line that many people love, including themselves.
"We all love Spirit Creek Farm products, and we've enjoyed them ourselves for a long time," said Dalen. "It just was like this convergence of all these things that made sense."
The flagship product for Spirit Creek Farm is its Kim Chi Kraut, which Dalen said is a hybrid between sauerkraut and kimchi.
"It's mild heat, and got a nice ginger freshness to it," said Dalen. "And the other popular ones are the green kraut and the purple kraut, and curtido — I mean, they're all pretty popular."
This winter, delays in kitchen construction at Northern Harvest Farm required Rick and Karola to drive to Cornucopia to work out at Jennifer and Andrew's kitchen.
"It was actually a blessing in disguise, that our kitchen was supposed to be done in November," said Karola Dalen. "Because working in Cornucopia with them, and being able to work side by side with Jennifer and Andrew helped us really maintain the same production methods and therefore the quality and the taste and everything."
Rick Dalen said with the products being around for over a decade, customers have come to expect the same quality.
"Our goal is to just reproduce what they've been doing, because they've got something that really works and that people come to know, and expect a certain level of consistency and quality from it," said Dalen. "We've been able to learn directly from them, working out of their space, and really in a position where we can feel confident bringing it into our own space and making that happen."
Karola Dalen said it's nice to tap into the farming history in the area.
"Our neighborhood in Wrenshall has been historically a cabbage growing area," said Karola Dalen. "The farms have old root cellars, and our farm has a cellar, that doesn't function anymore, but it's 80-feet long and like 30-feet wide, and they would fill it up with cabbage."
The couple said that older residents will tell them of the cabbage-growing past in the area.
"They'll tell you stories about how the fields used to be covered with cabbage, so it feels kind of fitting to bring a cabbage-based business back to the land," said Rick Dalen.