Free-Range Turkey Farms in New EnglandPhoto Credit : Pixabay
The USDA defines “free-range” birds as those who are allowed “access to the outside.” However, farms do this in different ways — some let their turkeys walk and peck in a pasture, others let them roam in an outdoor dirt pen, and others keep them in outdoor cages, noting that the birds are still getting fresh air and sunshine.
Many believe that birds raised on a free-range turkey farm are happier and healthier than those on other kinds of farms. You should still do your homework, though, to ensure that the turkeys you buy are raised according to your family’s standards. Check with your neighborhood market, farmers’ market, or butcher shop for recommendations on free-range turkey farms in New England, or go to LocalHarvest.org to search for them. You’ll find lists and descriptions of organic, free-range, and heritage-breed turkey producers in your area.
The Hurds have farmed the same Hampton, New Hampshire, property since 1923. Steve Hurd is the third generation of his family to carry on the tradition of raising meat, from beef to pork to poultry. Hurd raises broad-breasted white turkeys throughout the year, which he sells as whole fresh birds for Thanksgiving and as frozen meat in the other months.
More than 12,000 turkeys are sold at this popular family farm, which first opened its doors in 1954 with just 125 turkeys. Throughout the year, Bob’s sells all manner of turkey specialities, including made-from-scratch potpies and frozen cuts. Desserts and other Thanksgiving fixings are also available.
Claire and Raymond Rischer were the original visionaries of this family farm, which opened for business in 1950 with just 24 turkeys. Today, the Rischers’ son, Jim, and his family own and manage the property. Prepared entrées and side dishes and of course, fresh whole turkeys are all for sale.
Kate Stillman is your farmer at this Hardwick property. Opened in 2005, Stillman’s specializes in pasture-raised turkeys, as well as an assortment of beef and pork.
You won’t go hungry at Pine Tree. In addition to its popular fresh turkeys, the farm also churns out delicious prepared foods (hello, empanadas turkey chorizo) and a wide assortment of sausages, among other tasty treats.
This organic farm is more than just a food source — it’s a destination. Overnights are offered, after which visitors can leave with an assortment of fresh veggies, herbs, and meats. If you decide the farming life is for you, extend the stay and enroll at the Four Springs Farm School.
Fresh chickens and turkeys are the specialty at Misty Knoll, a family-owned operation located just south of Burlington.
This central Vermont farm serves up a little bit of everything, from starter tomato plants to fresh beef to whole chickens and turkeys. Call 802-272-4648.
A devastating 2014 fire nearly spelled the end of this family farm, located just east of Burlington. But perseverance and an overwhelming level of community support kept the doors open. Today, Maple Wind is doing better than ever. All manner of sustainable meats are offered, including an array of pasture-raised turkeys for the holidays.
On a hillside property that covers 120 acres in Dorset, this third-generation property is what head farmer, Scout Proft, calls a “full plate” farm. Big greenhouses grow vegetables throughout the year, there’s homegrown fruit, and on an adjunct farm Proft and her sons raise pheasants, chickens, and turkeys.
The Hermonot family first opened their farm doors in 1998, beginning with just 15 turkeys for family and friends. Today, it’s a thriving, sustainably focused operation that raises some 3,000 birds each year, making it the largest grower of pasture-raised turkeys in the state.
This 80-acre farm has been feeding central Rhode Island residents since 1935. Baffoni chickens and turkeys are served at restaurants across the state as well, and come Thanksgiving, the farm-fresh birds sell quickly.
Opened in 2002, Pat’s has grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chickens, turkeys, ducks, and pigs on 150 acres spread across several pieces of prime farmland.
This post was published in 2007 and has been updated.