The Winter’s Turkey family operated farms goal is to educate Albertan’s on how their holiday turkey is raised by participating in Open Farm Day on Aug. 18.
“Open Farm Day gives farmers an opportunity to open the farm gates to the public, and show them what goes on every day, and spread awareness about agriculture in Alberta,” said fourth generation owner of Winter’s Turkeys Laurel Winter.
“Open Farm Day is so important. Especially for a farm that raises animals for meat, people can see how they are raised, and spread awareness that we are a humanely raised farm,” Winter added, “Most farms in Alberta are.”
People think that turkeys are raised in cages, Winter added, no turkey is raised in a cage.”
Certain criteria must be met in order to farm, Winter’s Turkeys has to fulfill many requirements in order to raise the birds.
“There’s a lot of checks, and balances to make sure what we’re doing is fair to the bird. We’re doing our best,” Winter said.
“People want to know where they’re food comes from. We’re trying to educate the consumers that choosing meat is a good choice, but choose meat that you’re comfortable supporting,” Winter said.
Winter’s Turkeys has been operated for four generations, beginning in the 1950’s when Winter’s grandfather was trying to make ends meet. He discovered turkeys were the best way to pay bills and the most consistent way to make a living.
“We’ve raised free range and organic turkeys since day one,” Winter said.
She added, the turkeys at the farm have been antibiotic free, before it was a sought-after requirement in purchasing meat.
“It’s very cool to see now that there is such a demand for it, and for people to come out and see that the turkeys look very content, they’re not in cages, they’re not filthy, they’re happy birds outside and living their life,” Winter said.
However, to operate a family farm, Winter can’t only be a farmer, she also needs to be a marketer, and a salesman, which can be challenging. Winter added, as a farmer she has to earn her success.
Although it is difficult at times to farm and juggling running the business, Winter said becoming a house hold name to Albertans makes the hard work worth it.
Winter’s Turkeys have sold fresh turkeys at Thanksgiving and at Christmas for generations, and for people to come pick up their turkey and say that picking up a holiday turkey is part of their tradition is a special connection for her.
Winters husband, Lyle Weigum who grew up on a farm outside of Three Hills Alta., said that a program such as Open Farm Days is vital because it’s showing Albertans where their food comes from, that they can trust their food, and they can see inside to an industry that is important to the province, but not talked about enough.
“It allows farmers to show how passionate we are about what we do,” Weigum added, “We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it. It’s too hard.”
For Weigum, one of the best parts about Open Farm Day is seeing families come out, and experience everything the farm has to offer.
“We love seeing people come out, and hold turkey chicks, how cool is that? What a neat experience to say you did this summer.”
At Winter’s Turkeys the animals are respected, and always come first, Weigum added, “We think that shows in the final product. The best tasting turkey in Alberta comes from Winter’s Turkeys.”
The product speaks for itself, Winter’s Turkeys has had returning customers for four generations.
“We have a very loyal customer base. Without those people the farm couldn’t be passed from generation to generation. It wouldn’t work,” he added, “We have a product that people enjoy, and we see a future in it.”
Winter said, in order to keep family farms like Winter’s Turkeys in the community successful, locals need to support them.