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Locally Laid partners with Amish farmers

DULUTH — In just two years, Locally Laid Egg Co. has gotten national attention and built a loyal following for its eggs from cage-free, pasture-raised hens.

With the northeastern Minnesota company’s growing name recognition, and eggs sold in an increasing number of stores, it’s easy to forget it’s still a startup business with slim profits.

“Someday, I’m sure, we’ll make money,” said Lucie Amundsen, who owns the business with her husband, Jason. “We cash flow, we pay all our bills. We’re in the black, but we’re not really making a lot of money yet. We don’t pay ourselves yet. We pay everyone else.”

However, profits may not be far off.

Locally Laid is expanding its distribution far beyond northeastern Minnesota — to the Twin Cities, North Dakota, Indiana and the Chicago and Detroit areas. And they’re doing it without increasing their flock of 2,000 hens at their lone farm in Wrenshall.

“We’re growing at quite the pace,” Jason Amundsen said.

To expand their distribution, the couple, who live in Duluth, are taking a creative approach that’s also helping small farmers. In the last year, Locally Laid has formed partnerships with Amish farmers in Kalona, Iowa; Middlebury, Ind.; and Henriette, Minn.

Locally Laid buys the eggs from them and distributes them under the Locally Laid brand to stores, restaurants and other food services to their markets nearest the farms.

“It’s great for the Amish community farmers who aren’t into being out in the world, but are excellent farmers,” Lucie Amundsen said. “It took us a very long time to build up that level of trust with our partner farms. Now we have that established relationship — and they are referring us to their relatives.”

According to Jason Amundsen, with the help of five distributors, Locally Laid will more than double its retail outlets, from the current 90 to nearly 200, by October.