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Know Your Local Farmer: Vendor seeks satisfied customers

With names like "Mark's Rowdy Rhubarb," "Mark's Mighty Marinara Sauce" and "Mark's Purty Good Mostly Organic Salsa," how can any farmers market shopper not stop to take a look at what else the Hay Creek Stock Farm offers.

Mark Fickes of Hay Creek Stock Farm in Sebeka cuts up a vegetable sample for customers at the Nisswa Farmers Market on Thursday, Aug. 28.Photo by Nancy Vogt
Mark Fickes of Hay Creek Stock Farm in Sebeka cuts up a vegetable sample for customers at the Nisswa Farmers Market on Thursday, Aug. 28.Photo by Nancy Vogt

With names like "Mark's Rowdy Rhubarb," "Mark's Mighty Marinara Sauce" and "Mark's Purty Good Mostly Organic Salsa," how can any farmers market shopper not stop to take a look at what else the Hay Creek Stock Farm offers.

Owner Mark Fickes of Sebeka has been selling fresh produce and beef at area farmers markets since 2005, including at the Nisswa, Crosslake and Fifty Lakes markets.

"I needed a market for things I wanted to sell direct," he said of why he chose farmers markets.

In addition to tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, salsa and numerous other vegetables, Fickes sells 100 percent grass-fed beef. At least one customer at the Nisswa Farmers Market on Thursday, Aug. 28, said she'll never buy beef from a grocery store again.

Fickes bought his 160-acre farm in 1998, saying about 60 acres are farmable. Much of the farm is part of the Conservation Reserve Program.

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His two big operations are the grass-fed beef and vegetable production. He also is part of a CSA - community supported agriculture - where for 16 weeks he delivers a week's supply of fresh vegetables and herbs to families.

Fickes wanted to do something different from traditional agriculture.

"Beef alone was the original impetus. It's hard to sell just beef at these markets," he said of expanding his farm to include vegetables.

He enjoys the freedom and self-direction his farm offers. As for farmers markets, Fickes likes doing something people appreciate.

"The satisfaction you draw from happy customers," he said.

For more information, visit www.haycreekcsa.net or www.haycreek.net .

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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