Will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Do you love animals?
If you answered "yes" to both of these—I especially hope you love animals—and you live in Western PA, you've come to the right place. While Thanksgiving tends to sneak up on those that are in charge of cooking, farmers are thinking about America's most popular holiday several months in advance. You should be, too. Why not be prepared by ordering your turkey months in advance from a local farm?
Local, pasture-raised turkeys are more expensive than the conventional, store-bought ones, but they have a number of benefits. Consider the following:
Turkeys raised on pasture are more nutritious than conventional birds, containing more of vitamins A, C and E, so you can get a healthier meal without sacrificing taste. (And at Thanksgiving, nutrition upgrades count for double.)
Pasture-raised poultry are also noticeably more flavorful, thanks to having a more nutrient-dense diet of weeds, roots, and insects, in addition to grain.
Your purchase makes a huge difference for the local farmer that raised your turkey.
Turkeys on pasture live much happier and more natural lives than conventional turkeys raised indoors.
You know how the turkey was raised, since local farms pride themselves on their transparency.
Supporting your neighbor—that is, your local farmer—is just more in the spirit of the first Thanksgiving, don't you think?
If you're not sure where to look for your Thanksgiving bird, we've compiled a list of farms growing turkeys, all raised on pasture and without the use of antibiotics, right here in Western PA...
Burns Heritage Farm
The Burns run a diversified, pasture-based farm. Like all their other animals, the turkeys are raised on pasture, rotated around the land to provide continuous access to fresh grass. Their natural diet of weeds and bugs is supplemented with a GMO-free feed.
Orders are placed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, on a first-come-first-serve basis, up until the week before Thanksgiving, as turkeys are available.
Although these are chickens at Burns Heritage Farm, this chicken tractor is the same kind used to house and protect their turkeys. You can also check out their virtual tour.
Conforti Family Farm
If you live or work near Beaver, Sewickley or Darlington, PA, you can easily pick up a pastured, unfrozen Thanksgiving turkey raised by Conforti Family Farm. Along with their chickens, these turkeys always have access to fresh grass to achieve a more natural diet, which is supplemented by non-GMO grains. Their whole farm emulates organic principles, so the pasture is free of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers.
Orders are placed by emailing email@example.com, by calling 724-630-8132, or by visiting confortifamilyfarm.com. The deadline for Thanksgiving turkey orders is Friday, November 10.
Conforti Family Farm turkeys on pasture, enjoying the fresh air and hunting for food.
Fallen Aspen Farm
Fallen Aspen Farm raises a variety of animals—goats, pigs, rabbits, and multiple species of poultry—as well as produce. For Thanksgiving they are raising both broad-breasted turkeys and a limited number of heritage-breed turkeys. All turkeys are raised on pasture, giving them a natural diet, which Fallen Aspen Farm supplements with a non-GMO feed.
Order a turkey by calling 724-513-1291, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or messaging them via their Facebook page. They would like to have all orders in by June 20th. Fresh turkeys will be picked up on the farm in Volant, PA on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (November 21, 2017).
Turkeys at Fallen Aspen Farm, like all their poultry, spend their lives on pasture.
The Family Cow
The Family Cow raises turkeys as part of their buying club, which is most easily accessed by subscribing to their newsletter. These turkeys are raised on certified organic pasture, rotated twice every day of the week to get the freshest grass available. The food they get naturally from the land is supplemented by feed that is free of GMOs, soy, antibiotics, and hormones*.
The Family Cow uses a processing facility less than half a mile from the farm, to reduce the stress of travel on the animals. Carcasses are eviscerated, dressed, and shrink-wrapped, all by hand. They use no chlorine or other toxic materials during the butchering process, only organic apple cider vinegar and Celtic sea salt.
Now taking orders. Join their e-newsletter to be alerted to the ordering deadline for Thanksgiving, which will most likely be in September. Orders can be delivered to one of 19 drop points in Southwestern PA.
Old Time Farm
Old Time Farm raises heritage turkeys from the Old Time Standard Bronze breed, whose lineage can be traced by 173 years, unlike conventional turkey breeds, which were intensively bred in the past decades to grow unnaturally quickly. Old Time Farm breeds and hatches its own stock from parent birds that are certified by the American Poultry Association as meeting the breed standard. The turkeys are raised on pasture, where their natural diet is supplemented with a custom, nutrient-dense, non-GMO ration made from local grains and milled/mixed on the farm.
You can order a frozen turkey by emailing Shelly (email@example.com), calling 814-786-7687, visiting oldtime.farm, or in person if you see them at a farmers market (like the Bloomfield Saturday Market). Turkeys can be picked up at any of the markets they attend. (They will be attending the Bloomfield Saturday Market on November 18th. Other markets TBA.)
Picture-perfect Heritage Old Time Standard Bronze turkeys at Old Time Farm.
Walnut Hill Farm
Walnut Hill Farm's turkeys are raised on pasture, as part of a multi-species rotational grazing program. (Typically, cows graze first, then sheep, then poultry to control pest populations. This system fertilizes the soil, ensures fresh food for all animals, and allows farmers to raise more animals on their land.) The pasture that is home to the turkeys is made of native grasses, legumes (like clover), and forbs, and is not treated with pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. This natural diet is supplemented with locally sourced, non-GMO feed.
Order in person at the farm stand, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 724-866-3244. Find them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to be alerted to their ordering deadline. Turkeys are available for pickup at the farm, located in Sharpsville, PA.
Now that you have your Thanksgiving turkey all picked out, make sure that you've got the best turkey recipe, demonstrated by our own Tim Trout in the video below.
*Hormones are illegal in poultry and swine production.
Disclaimer: Dates mentioned apply to Thanksgiving 2017. The information above may change from year to year.