Most of us only see turkey lying in state, as a lacquered roast centerpiece at the Thanksgiving table. But each of these birds came from somewhere, and if they were lucky, it was a place like Violet Hill Farm, an organic turkey farm upstate. Run by husband and wife team Mary Carpenter and Paul Dench-Layton, the farm boasts 200 acres for producing turkeys, chickens, lamb, rabbits and other delights; you may also remember their gorgeous eggs from earlier this year.
But at Thanksgiving time, the farm focuses on turkeys, specifically the Broad Breasted White variety they raise for slaughter. The AP was on hand this year, when the farm rounded up their rafter of around 250 birds one-by-one by hand to butcher and package for their loyal following at the Union Square Greenmarket. It's a surprisingly dramatic affair, with the duo chasing down birds and grabbing them by the feet; still, it's better than the disturbing processes found elsewhere on factory farms.
The birds are super popular—and already sold out, of course—mostly thanks to returning customers who've developed a strong bond with the family. "I get an email every year, three weeks before Thanksgiving, Mary has my email address," explains regular customer Karma Hara. "I don't get that email from Whole Foods...and I wouldn't give my email to Whole Foods."