I’d love to share with you a relatively new Thanksgiving family tradition that we have come to really enjoy. First, though, a little back story.
A few years ago, my husband & I made the decision to give up factory farmed meat. Like most people, we were aware for some time how disconnected we were from the factory-farmed supermarket meat (we don’t know where it came from, how it was processed), not to mention how horribly the animals are abused. But, we chose to basically look the other way because we liked eating meat, and we weren’t really familiar with any other options. Then, three or four years ago, we couldn’t ignore it any longer. We still eat meat, but we boycott factory farmed meat; this means that our meat comes from the farmer’s market and other local farms. (For more info, here’s environmental, animal rights, human rights, and personal health info on factory farmed meat)
Most days we didn’t miss the meat; but Thanksgiving, aka Turkey Day, was a challenge. Do we compromise our values for the sake of a holiday meal? Have Thanksgiving dinner and pass on the plate of turkey as it goes by? Neither option seemed very desirable. Then we found an amazing farm in Warnerville, Sap Bush Hollow Farm. It is a family farm, run by Adele and Jim Hayes, Shannon Hayes, and Bob Hooper. All of their animals are pastured (the animals can roam freely in their natural environment, to eat grasses, bugs, and plants that they are meant to eat!), they process their poultry on the farm, and they use sustainable farming techniques. But what made us really fall in love with this farm was the personal experience of going there to get our turkey. When we pull into the farm’s long driveway, we’ve been greeted by an array of farm animals over the past four years. Ducks, pigs, dogs, chickens, roosters, and cats wander about…on what feels like a movie set. The Hayes/Hooper family welcomes us into their home, offers conversation, coffee, and desserts.
Getting to go to this amazing farm once a year reminds us what’s really important about our food…we always were thankful for our food, on a certain level, but this experience adds some real perspective to our meal. I could go on and on about this place, but if you really want to get a good feel for what it is like, do a Google Image search of “Sap Bush Hollow Farm” (below are a few of my favorites.) Or, better yet, go check it out for yourself; they have open house dates throughout the year.
Stewart Cairns for the NYTIMES*
*This last photo is credited to Stewart Cairns for the NYTIMES. This photo accompanied an AMAZING article on Sap Bush Hollow Farm, On the Farm, Rat’s Race in Sheep’s Clothing, by Penelope Green. -Christina