At Boomflower Farm outside of Kenyon, Minnesota, Katy Lund is on a mission to share high-quality local products with her community, family, and friends.
Story by Michelle M. Sharp of Meet the Minnesota Makers:
Michelle M. Sharp is the founder and content creator of Meet the Minnesota Makers. The purpose of Meet the Minnesota Makers is to highlight small businesses throughout the state of Minnesota. She is especially dedicated to promoting small farms, consumer packaged goods, artisans, sustainability, and services unique to Minnesota.
Photography and Videography by Sarah Carroll of Greener Pastures.
Boomflower Farm is a key part of the puzzle of local sourcing—both of food and other consumable goods. Outside of Kenyon, Minnesota, Katy Lund is leaning into ethical agriculture as she produces local goods. In addition, she models the networks that support local businesses on a daily basis.
The more a community supports local supply chains, the more the community engages in sustainable practices. “None of us can do this by ourselves, but we can all be active participants in figuring out how to do it ourselves,” shared Katy. “I’m not alone in producing local food and personal products in a thoughtful and sustainable way. As an individual I can make choices that the things that I purchase are from local and sustainable places.”
Katy’s goal is to replace as many things in people’s lives with farm-grown items as possible. “This means your medicine cabinet, your cosmetics, your food, how you’re washing your dishes, how you’re washing your clothes. Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself.”
Katy, a full-time practicing mental health therapist by day, has turned 20-acres of neglected pasture and aggressive comfrey plants into a beautiful space where chickens are free to lay their eggs in the crook of a tree and sometimes lambs arrive by surprise. Katy raises sheep, cows, chickens, and turkeys for their wool, milk, eggs, and meat. She produces a line of cosmetics including shampoos, conditioners, lip balms, shaving soaps, and body lotions and moisturizers that contain infused oils distilled from farm-grown ingredients. All of her products contain as few ingredients as possible and always use the original plant, never a chemical derivative.
Katy’s journey into farming started when she became a vegetarian. “I wanted to understand where the things we buy come from,” explained Katy. Katy now limits her meat consumption to animals raised on her farm or from trusted local sources. “I came to understand that there wasn’t a blanket answer that all meat is bad; all vegetables are good. If you don’t know how the person who picked that vegetable is paid, treated or thought of, can you be sure that it’s cruelty free?”
In contrast to conventionally produced food, Katy’s animals are raised, slaughtered and butchered in a way that reduces stress as much as possible. “Farmers don’t kill animals because it’s fun. We do it because that’s how we feed the world. Being informed in how that happens and the choices that are made so that the animal has a full and content life is how the consumer makes a conscious choice.”
Katy’s poultry spend their entire life on the open acres of Boomflower Farm. Her chickens are free to move about the farm as they please. This means that they are currently laying eggs in the trees. “We don’t clip their feathers. They have access to food, water, and safety here so they choose to stay,” explained Katy.
Transporting the chickens to another facility for processing would be quite stressful for their small bodies. “By doing it at home we’re able to avoid the increased cortisol. The entire process—from the moment we sever their spinal cords until they pass—is as fast as possible,” shared Katy. “It’s a laborious process and frankly not enjoyable. It feels really important that if the animal is going to nourish us that we help them pass with as little stress as possible.”
For Katy’s flock of sheep, she works hard to be available for them while intervening in their daily rhythms as little as possible. The only regular limitation is the fence that confines them to the property. The sheep decide where they want to spend their time—woods, pasture, or both. “I put a lot of energy into developing a positive relationship with the sheep,” shared Katy. “They always have the option to come talk to people. If they want scratches, there is space for them to engage with us—some choose to and some keep their distance. I only intervene when there’s clear indicators that something is wrong. I get to know them all by observing and simply being present for them.”
Non-poultry animals are required to be processed in a licensed facility. Katy works with a local processor who allowed her to observe their butchering process. Because of this research, she trusts that her animals are treated with respect and compassion. Larger animals like sheep are more accustomed to being transported for quarterly husbandry checks so the trip is not inherently stressful. “As soon as they enter the facility they’ve passed within five minutes. It’s a short process. The means with which they pass makes sure that they don’t feel the process.”
Lindsey Zemanek, now of Burning Daylight Draft Farm, was Katy’s first farming partner. Katy and Lindsey’s friendship deepened when Katy, after graduating from the University of Minnesota, lived with Lindsey and her husband Bill on their hobby farm. “There was a lot of experimenting with all the homesteading stuff. We raised chickens. We had a big garden. There was a lot of canning,” said Katy. “Chickens were definitely the gateway drug into more farming.”
Shortly after, Katy entered grad school at Augsburg, but stayed connected with Lindsey and the farm. “Lindsey and I were about as enmeshed with each other as it gets—we were friends, coworkers, business partners, and then I married her younger brother.”
Together Katy and Lindsey established First Draft Farm in 2019 to explore cosmetics production. “Food led to clothing which led to the personal care products. People are always surprised that we can have farm-grown ingredients in cosmetics and that I would be at a farmers’ market with things other than food,” said Katy. “Local can and must be more than food.” After parting ways as business partners in early 2022 to pursue different interests, Katy founded Boomflower Farm.
Katy’s list of locally-produced cosmetics ingredients includes calendula, echinacea, lavender, cows milk, sheep milk, lanolin, bees wax and honey. If she doesn’t grow it herself, she sources it locally. For those with sensitive skin, Katy’s plant-based ingredients are less allergenic than the synthetic alternatives common in many commercial products.
“My environmental cost is minimal. The raw materials are from the local community. My focus is on selling locally to avoid the impact of shipping.” Katy avoids packaging when possible and employs recyclable or reusable containers when necessary. She encourages customers to return their tins to be sterilized and reused to further reduce consumption.
Today, Katy’s focus is local sourcing and supporting small businesses. She manages Boomflower Farm with the land, the animals, and herself in mind. “Instead of a hierarchy of needs, it’s more of a circle where we’re all intermingled in this together,” stated Katy. “Some days my needs will take priority and some days it will be the cows, the opinionated Ginger and her children. Some days I look at how I will take care of the land more effectively so that all of us will benefit.”
For Katy, life on her farm is a fulfilling endeavor. “What fills my soul is being on the farm, working with my animals. I think the longer I do this the more fulfilled I feel by the physical work that I didn’t know I needed,” reflected Katy. “At the end of the day I can always say that I accomplished something, even if it was just throwing hay for the sheep and the cows.”
This feature was originally shared on to Greener Pastures