Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Supplies are low, demand is high, here’s where to find local or organic turkeys

Local turkeys may be more scarce this year, there's still plenty of options. (Port City Daily photo / FILE)
Local turkeys may be more scarce this year, there’s still plenty of options. (Port City Daily FILE PHOTO)

Thanksgiving is upon us, which means it’s time for turkey shopping, especially for those looking for local or organic birds.

Local turkeys are always in high demand, but this year the situation was complicated by the closing of Cool Hand Meats. This was the state’s only plant servicing independent poultry producers, according to Sarah Blacklin, director of NC Choices.

Cool Hand Meats made it possible for small farmers to slaughter and prepare turkeys without having dedicated and permitted facilities on their farms; it’s closing, this close to Thanksgiving, has made the turkey business trickier than usual.

According to Blacklin, North Carolina has granted special exemptions to small farms to let them process turkeys on premises, as long as key sanitary standards are met.

“This special exemption has helped a lot of North Carolina farmers, though it should be said that farmers outside of the state are also going to feel the impact of the plant closing.  The timing is especially difficult since many farmers have pre-sold holiday birds, but farmers are resourceful people and many have pulled together to figure out processing alternatives to get through the holidays, though not without added cost, time, and stress to find solutions,” Blacklin said.

Still, there’s no need to cancel Thanksgiving. There are still some local options, which are listed below, as well as some local business that can help you find a quality out-of-town turkey.

Local farms

Humble Roots Farm is probably the most local source of turkeys in Wilmington, short of catching a wild one yourself. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)
Humble Roots Farm is probably the most local source of turkeys in Wilmington, short of catching a wild one yourself. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

Humble Roots Farm — Kyle and Katelyn Stenersen started this farm in Scott’s Hill, N.C., in 2013. Located just outside of Wilmington, the farm raises free-range turkeys given a non-GMO feed. Their products are used at a number of Wilmington restaurants including RX, Hops Supply Co. and others.

Turkeys can be reserved online. Final dressed weight will be between 15-20 lbs, at a cost of $5 per pound. There is a $20 deposit required.

Interested customers can also visit the farm – and the turkeys – on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, from 9 a.m. until noon.

Humble Roots Farm is located at 1247 Scotts Hill Loop Rd. Wilmington. You can reach them by phone at 910-538-3728 and online.

Joyce Farms  Alvin Joyce started this family poultry farm in 1962 in the Winston-Salem area. Don’t worry, you won’t have to drive — the company ships to Wilmington.

Joyce farms raises free range, all-natural birds, but has not pursued non-GMO or organic status, stating on its website: “although organic standards are a step in the right direction, we feel our raising standards and animal welfare beliefs exceed the organic label.”

Turkeys are available to ship online here, the deadline for Thanksgiving delivery is 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

Organic, free-range and local turkey retailers

Lovey’sThe natural food store and cafe in the Landfall Shopping Center is selling limited quantities of organic Mary’s Turkeys. The turkeys are raised in California by a family farm, founded in 1954.

Turkeys can be ordered by calling the cafe at (910) 509-0331, birds are first come, first serve. Lovey’s is located 1319 Military Cutoff Road and is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.


Tidal Creek Co-op
Tidal Creek Co-op will have a variety of turkey choices. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)

Tidal Creek — The food co-op on Oleander Drive will have a limited amount of local, free-range, non-GMO turkeys from Humble Roots Farm.

They will also have both organic and all-natural, non-GMO turkeys from Plainville Farms, the Pennsylvania-based meat and poultry producer.

Turkeys will be available beginning next week. Tidal Creek is located at 5329 Oleander Dr. It is open daily from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. For more info on Thanksgiving turkeys, call 910 799-2667.

Pine Valley Market — The market offers a variety of organic and local holiday cuts — including turkey, pork and beef roasts.

In the event a local organic turkey cannot be found, supporting a local business and getting an organic turkey might be an acceptable alternative. Pine Valley Market will also cook turkeys and cater holiday meals. Complete information on Koch’s Turkey farm and how to order can be found at the market’s website.

The deadline for Thanksgiving orders is Saturday, Nov. 18th at noon. Orders will be taken while supplies last. Pine Valley Market is located at 3520 South College Road, near 17th Street.

Red Beard Farms – Morgan Milne’s farm on Castle Hayne Road — just north of Wilmington International Airport — has offered pork and poultry in the past, but this year is focusing on vegetables; perfect if you’re cooking a vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving.

Red Beard Farms is going all out on vegetables this year, including collards. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY RED BEARD FARMS)
Red Beard Farms is going all out on vegetables this year, including collards. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY RED BEARD FARMS)

The small farm has no website, but can be reached at redbeardfarms@gmail.com and through the farm’s Facebook page.

Milne said, “We do have vegetables and mushrooms this fall. Growing broccoli, cauliflower, red and green cabbage, collards, carrots, kales, butternut squash, lettuces, arugula in terms of fall veggies (also have various peppers holding on but they will be done soon). Of that, folks can find our green bell peppers, butternut squash, cabbages, carrots and kales at Tidal Creek. Probably will get our collards there weekend before thanksgiving but still have to arrange that.”

Mills Family Farm – The family farm, founded in 1935, provides high-end cuts of beef for several Wilmington restaurants. Those looking to do something a little different for the holidays – for example, short ribs or roast – can contact Tidal Creek Co-Op for availability or special orders.

Want more local food? Check out the NC 10% website, part of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, for info on finding markets, farms and restaurants that feature local ingredients.

Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at ben@localvoicemedia.com, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001.

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