Our story

After 40 plus years in the service of their community of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Annette and Kay Fernholz directed their ministry to the 240-acre family farm near Madison, Minnesota. Their parents, Armond and Gertie Fernholz, purchased the farm from John and Elizabeth Mueller in 1944. Once again this farm would see new beginnings in 1996 when Kay and Annette established Earthrise Farm.


Earthrise Farm takes its name from a quote made during the first moon landing, when an astronaut said, "We have seen the splendor of Earth rise above the horizon of the moon." The sisters feel it announces the coming of a new paradigm. They hope that people will gradually discover that "we have no existence apart from this Living Earth."


The gardens at Earthrise are comprised of a four acre portion of their family farm, with the remianing acreage farmed organically by their three brothers, Carmen, Chuck and Tom.


The Fernholz sisters follow the model of "teikei," a Japanese approach where small farms provide their neighbors and communities with fresh fruits and vegetables and, in return, families make a lasting commitment to the farm. The American model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) closely resembles the principle of teikei.


For 12 years Sisters Kay and Annette - along with season interns and sometimes local high-school and grade-school students dubbed "garden angels" — they provided local families and communities with fresh nurtitious organic food grown at a fair cost of production. During the next two seasons, Nick and Joan Olson, a young farming couple, successfully and creatively managed and directed the CSA. During the 2010 season the budget has not allowed Earthrise the opportunity to hire garden managers so this summer finds them directing their subscriptions to their neighboring CSA, Easy Bean Farm, where the fresh produce is grown, harvested and prepared for delivery. Each week someone from Earthrise is grateful to pick up their shares and distribute them to the Earthrise subscribers.

There are still vegetables growing at Earthrise. During the 2010 season vegetables will be grown for the school lunch program of the Marshal Area Christian School in Marshall, Minn., and other local lunch program who has entered into the Farm to School program. Some of the garden plot is being rented to another local CSA for growing root crops for winter shares and some space is reserved for children's gardens. Who knows where the future may point us as we continue to grow good food for more and more people.


If you visit Earthrise on any given day, you’ll witness one of the many community gatherings, celebrations, and various activities, that make up the energy of the place.


Our farm
Every structure at Earthrise tells a story. The inspiration, hard work, and generous spirit of our community surfaces time and again to meet the growing needs of our farm.


A greenhouse was constructed on the farm in 1999 and named in honor of Robyn Van En, who brought the CSA concept to this country. Gene Sandau, a local community member, wished to do something good for the Earth and offered his carpentry skills as a gift to Earthrise and to the Earth. Out of this greenhouse come hundreds of young healthy plants that are transplanted into the gardens in early spring. Attached to this building is a walk-in-cooler which was made from an old truck box.


The old chicken barn has been remodeled into a canning kitchen and vegetable preparation area bearing the name of Rachel Carson House. It is here that meals are prepared and enjoyed by all those that live and work at Earthrise (and anyone who may happen along when the table is set and ready for feasting on the garden goodies). In the summer of 2002 a front porch was added using the pillars of the old house in which Gertie Fernholz, Kay and Annette’s mother, was born. Attached to this building is the walk-in cooler which was made using an old truck box, a cooling system, and insulation.


On Sept. 11, 2003, construction on our Earth Trade Center began. It serves as a small front office to accommodate visitors to the farm who may want to purchase produce, books and other educational materials. The back room is where eggs are prepared for market.


Over the past six years, poultry has been added to the Earthrise collage. Kay and Annette are part of a venture initiated at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center located in Lamberton, Minnesota. A poultry coop was begun and is now selling organic and free-range broilers as well as eggs. Earthrise is home to 100 leg horn and bovine laying hens. An old hog barn was converted into a poultry barn where the laying hens are housed. The hens eat organic feed and roam the farm during the day. Since the organic feed supplement contains flax and the hens are allowed to graze in the outdoors as well, the eggs produced are very high in the omega 3 element. Omega 3 is known to help people with cholesterol problems as well as high blood pressure, arthritis, psoriasis eczema and cancer.


In February 2003, Kay and Annette’s community, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, invited them to become part of the Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry (CESRM), located at their motherhouse site in Mankato, Minnesota.


In February 2004 Kay and Annette submitted the articles of incorporation to the State of Minnesota making their first request toward their 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Incorporation was accepted and Earthrise is now known as Earthrise Farm Foundation, Inc.


In 2005 the Earthrise Farm Foundation Board chose as its first project, the construction of the Honeycomb Center Peace Yurt. With the generous donations of time, labor and know-how of local friends this project was completed and serves well the mission of Earthrise.

On July 11, 2007, a 1917 Country School House was moved and became part of the growing dream and ministry of Earthrise.

2010 marks the 15th celebration of the Annual Earth Sabbath Celebration. Each day continues to unfold the purpose of Earthrise while we all walk daily as a Universe Family.