Meet the Team
Kara Berlage, Laura Berlage, Steve Barnes and Ann Berlage
We are a multi-disciplinary family dedicated to your health and wellness, regenerating the land, and farming for community. Here’s a snapshot of who we are and how our unique sets of skills and interests combine to make Team Farmstead.
Ann Berlage, MD
Owner / Physician
A practicing family physician for over 30 years, Ann’s focus is now on engendering holistic wellness for family and community through nutrition, lifestyle, and education. Her background in chemistry has been invaluable for the aquaponics endeavor, her obstetrics training for the intensity of lambing, and her passion for impacting positive change has been a huge inspiration to her daughters in our outreach endeavors. With a keen understanding of child development and a passion for impacting good self esteem in girls and women, she not only supported her daughters in their Montessori education through 6th grade but also homeschooled them on the farm using unschooling and Montessori methods, so they could pursue their dreams and passions. Laura and Kara continued paths of progressive education through college and even graduate school. Together, the three of them own the business that is North Star Homestead Farms and Farmstead Creamery. Ann is championing our COVID-19 response. Ann’s experience as a family physician with an emphasis on proactive care not only makes her keenly aware of the value of nutrition for whole-person health but also enables her to probe the ever-changing data on the virus. This allows us to strategize appropriate practices and efforts to keep ourselves and our clients safe and healthy. She has spearheaded our new “source smart” offerings of additional Organic fruits, veggies, and dairy that we are direct-sourcing from a co-op distributor in Minnesota. “The latest statistics show that as long as people still visit each other, go to the grocery store, or fly across the country, we will never be able to contain the virus,” she notes. “Our goal is to help people not have to go to stores, where their food has been touched by many hands. Staying healthy means really looking at the system and critically evaluating how to reduce risk of spread.” Key to our vision of a healthy planet and all of its inhabitants, Ann’s medical training and skills infuse our farm with observation skills, critical thinking, process discipline, and a passion for quality and excellence. Her tireless enthusiasm for this lived dedication is a standing stone for what it means to be “all in” with your ethics.
Owner / Shepherdess/Cheesemaker
With a BA in Environmental Studies/Sustainable Agriculture from Vermont College, Kara has spearheaded our rotational and multi-species grazing methods. She is our resident chef, ancient grains baker, and artisan gelato and cheesemaker–crafting delicious foods from our farm’s fresh, whole ingredients. She spearheads our “Taste of the Farm” column and web presence with Laura, helping folks learn how to cook and bake the Farmstead way even at home. Kara’s love for her animals, including our English Shepherd herding dogs, Kunekune heritage pigs, cross-bred sheep (for meat, wool, and dairy), miniature cows, and guard donkeys infuses the farm’s vision with stewardship and husbandry. Her sustainability focus makes her a whole-systems thinker, as she watches the biodynamic connections between practices and the land, the animals and plants in relation with each other, and how these come together as delicious, wholesome foods for our friends of the farm. Kara also spearhead Dancing Lamb Studio, which brings creative expression to wool and pelt products from our flock of sheep. A hard worker who also loves having fun with her dogs and her horse Blue, Kara brings her passion for efficiency, process control, and attention to detail to the team, while reminding us to find balance and enjoy the moment.
With an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College, Laura’s love for the land is also infused with her love of creative expression–from music to textiles, creative writing to costumery. Our resident storyteller, she writes the beloved weekly syndicated column “Down on the Farm,” our weekly and monthly newsletters, social media posts, and many of these web pages. As the “voice of the farm,” she is dedicated to sharing our story while keeping it human and transparent. Laura brings her Z-axis focus to the farm and Farmstead through classes, concerts, cultural events, and local artist gallery presence as she weaves in the creative community. She is also an avid poultry fancier, championing our heritage breed flocks of chickens, turkeys, and ducks. From her on-farm studio yurt, Laura spearheads Erindale Tapestry Studio, known for its beautiful and interdisciplinary works of fiber arts from tapestries to punch needle rug hooking, needle felting to wearable arts. A beloved instructor of often sold-out classes here at Farmstead, Laura is now focusing on online and kit-based learning opportunities to help keep students engaged and expressing their creativity, even in these difficult times. With a passion for liberating the creative soul, Laura also shares her musical talents through our varied concert and session offerings, encouraging others in a safe, affirming environment to create, express, and be inspired as well.
Steve joined our family team in 2015! With a diverse background from robotics and engineering to optics and IT, Steve is eagerly soaking up the Farmstead lifestyle and engaging in the interdisciplinary process. With a passion for education and delivering a message of truth, Steve emphasizes continuous improvement and building solutions to ongoing problems. Not only is he the powerhouse behind making this website happen but also keeping IT and monitoring processes running smoothly in the aquaponics greenhouse, our live barn camera streams (especially during critical lambing season), and many other projects. Self-dubbed “Daddy fix-it,” Steve’s engineering skills have brought many an old piece of equipment or vehicle back into service on the farm, so we can keep our operation running. He’s also an avid fisherman whose family has owned property on neighboring Moose Lake since the 1930’s. A Six Sigma black belt in continuous improvement, Steve is focused on process refinement, team and leadership skills, dedication to purpose, and right-sizing. Eager to share our farm’s unique story as a lived expressions of a sustainable life model, Steve has not only led innumerable farm tours but also continues to facilitate creative ways to share the message online and at the farm. Steve is a great asset to our family team as he embraces each day’s challenges and dedicates to helping in any way he can. As he has said, “I’m all in.”