Fresh as well as frozen turkeys (and even live baby poults to raise at home) of the classic Heritage and the more modern Broad Breasted White can still be found at numerous family farms in Connecticut, five of which are listed below. These turkeys cost a good deal more than the grocery store variety, but for those who believe turkeys to be more than just a photo-op centerpiece on the holiday table, they are well worth the price and the extra time it takes to pre-order and pickup (or even raise).
Gozzi’s Turkey Farms
2443 Boston Post Road
Guildford, CT 06437
Prices: $2.49 per pound
Gozzi’s Turkey Farms has a Facebook page but does not have its own website because Gozzi’s does not need one. Almost every newspaper, magazine, blog or food site in the region has a link to the most famous and universally-agreed-upon best place to buy a truly fresh turkey in Connecticut. This writer’s own wife has fond childhood memories of going with her mother to buy the holiday turkey at this revered if rustic Guildford farm nearly half a century ago. That farm is still going strong says Bill Gozzi, part of the third generation of the family that has been raising turkeys there for 75 years. Bill is very proud that Gozzi birds are big, free-range, all-natural and raised without the use of hormones and antibiotics. Only two supermarkets in the state carry them (South Side Market in Middletown and Village Market in Wilton), and in limited quantities, so anyone who wants a Gozzi bird MUST pre-order and do so about a week ahead of time. Last year, Bill says they sold 15,000 birds and ran out of turkeys well before Thanksgiving.
Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm
227 Ekonk Hil Road
Moosup, CT 06354
Price: $4.29 or $8.99 per pound, depending on size and variety of bird
“Tasting is Believing, Guaranteed,” is the motto at Ekonk Hill in Sterling, where the Hermonot family raises not only fresh turkeys but also pasture-raised chickens, grass-fed beef and other varieties of hoof and feather animals destined for the Connecticut tables. While adults seal the deal over their holiday turkey, children can wander about the eight-acre corn maze, go on a hayride or pet any of a selection of cute, little and unsuspecting barnyard animals. The Brown Cow Café on site also offers a wonderful selection of homemade ice cream, baked goods and turkey pies. Pre-ordering (and prepaying) for turkeys is a must, especially around the holidays. Fresh pasture-raised turkeys are available for $4.29 a pound for sizes up to 40 pounds. The smaller, fresh free-range Heritage turkeys, which are only available in sizes from eight to 16 pounds, are a good deal more expensive and go for $8.99 a pound (as do the pasture-raised geese, which are only available in the 10- to 12-pound range).
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55 Laurence Eleanor St.
Stonington, CT 06378
Price: $4.99 per pound for Broad Breasted Bronze and $8.99 per pound for Heritage Breed
Craig and Sheryl Floyd pride themselves on producing “humanely-raised, grass-fed” turkeys and other animals. The family has been raising animals on this 15-acre plot on top of Quoketaug Hill above Stonington since 1712, and although their farm has now expanded to nearly 100 acres, the family continues to use the rotational-style grazing methods of their 18th Century forebears. Footsteps Farm no longer takes individual orders nor do they provide birds to local grocery stores or farm markets. Like many small farms, they now deal exclusively through CT Farm Fresh Express (www.ctffe.com). One benefit to the consumer of this is that CT Farm Fresh Express will deliver “from local farms right to your door.” Sadly, that means their turkeys come only in the frozen variety, but this does have the advantage of allowing a family to ensure they will have a Broad Breasted Bronze or Heritage Breed well ahead of the holidays.
Stone Gardens Farm
83 Saw Mill City Road
Shelton, CT 06484
Price: $3.50 per pound ($3.25 per pound for birds larger than 20 pounds)
Thanksgiving Pre-order Pick Up Dates: November 19, 20 and 21 only
“Live Poultry Fresh Killed” is how Fred and Stacia Monahan bill their custom-order, farm-raised meat business, and that applies to their chickens, pigs, beef cattle and turkeys, all of which are raised on the property and without the use of hormones or antibiotics. Having built a business from what was a simple roadside stand in 1998 to a farm with 50 acres of vegetables plus pastures, the Monahans are proud, says Stacia, “to grow real food for real people.” Those “real people” include three young children. They eat the same animals and vegetables their parents sell to the public. As Stacia puts it quite firmly, “We raise our family in these fields, and we want you to feel comfortable doing the same.”
Cameron Family Farm
70 Ray Hill Road
East Haddam, CT 06423
Price: $12 per live 1-2 week old turkey poult, plus $2 per week in age beyond that
Hours: Web and phone ordering available, but on-site visits by appointment only
The Cameron Family Farm in East Haddam is unique in so many ways – including offering a service to deliver up to 50 miles away (albeit for a fee that ranges from $10 to $40). This farm doesn’t just sell turkeys, it sells live turkey poults (baby turkeys customers can raise themselves) which are then brought back to the farm to be “dressed” for the table (and that does not mean putting them in a tux). While they offer many varieties of poultry, the most popular is the Narragansett breed, a bird whose ancestors came from mating wild Eastern turkeys with domesticated Rhode Island farm birds. Customers can place orders by phone and email, and even use Pay Pal to purchase their poultry. The Camerons will deliver or accommodate those who wish to pick up their purchase at the farm, although by appointment only.
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Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience, most notably but not exclusively in the fields of international relations and history specifically military history. His work can be found at Examiner.com.