I still recall our last Thanksgiving in Florida. It was 2010. We were basically living in a pop-up camper in my parents backyard (in the neighborhood that I, Carolyn, grew up in). Ian still worked for the University of Florida and was commuting daily; an hour north to arrive to his “cozy” cubicle and then another hour south to his parents-in-law’s home. We were in the process of finalizing the purchase of the land and home we now call Four Corners Farm. You could say life was a little tense. We were hoping that all the paperwork would be fine, we had no idea what Ian’s boss would say when he told her that he wanted to move to Virginia and begin a new career as a farmer, our family heard about our situation and surely thought we were crazy! My parents (Dave & Betty) fortunately had grabbed hold of the vision we had and were open and supportive as we made these steps of faith (living in a pop-up camper in their backyard with 4 kids isn’t easy!). Looking back, I am so grateful for their hospitality and use of their home during the day – we home schooled with my Grandmother hanging out and listening in on the books we were reading. She got to play with Joy (who was only a year old then!) and the kids got plenty of Grandma Betty time, too!
Back to Thanksgiving… Like I said, life was a little tense. But Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Perhaps because I can remember many family reunions spent over Thanksgiving… all my cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents gathered together, sharing meals, playing football and especially fun – cooking together! Well, 2010 was our family’s first year of purchasing a turkey from a local farmer, and needless to say, I remember the experience. Usually, family reunions were typical store bought (half frozen!) butterball turkeys. But after our new hopeful vocational calling to become farmers, we knew the importance of supporting local producers of food, and we made a commitment to buy local for Thanksgiving! We reserved a turkey with a farmer at the Gainesville, FL Farmers Market and I can still remember the day going to pick up the turkey there. I remember writing the check, and yes, feeling like I had an inkling of how much work went into raising an animal… the cost was higher than those butterballs in the store. But the fact that our dollars were going directly to a farmer and his family brought a deep sense of gratitude and respect for those who work hard raising animals the way they were made to be raised – in nature, on the land, not in a big confinement house.
So! For all of you who are on the fence about buying a locally raised turkey for your holiday meal, consider what an honor and joy it is for us to raise, care for and tend the turkeys. Think of the memories you can make by sharing in the local growth of your community by supporting small family farms. I think we can safely say, you will remember your special turkey and just how wonderful Thanksgiving can be.