Did you know that you could have a turkey raised in San Benito County on your Thanksgiving dinner table?
Lisa Knutson of Hollister started raising turkeys to sell for Thanksgiving about six years ago to add to her poultry business, which sells chickens and eggs as part of Pasture Chick Ranch. Reminiscing about turkeys raised by her father, Knutson decided to try it herself.
“My dad was famous for growing these fully dressed 50-pound turkeys,” Knutson said. “I started them because I would give them to people who worked for me and my family would have turkeys.”
Working with CSAs (community supported agriculture) as part of her poultry business, Knutson learned there was a demand for her turkeys. In the first year she sold 65 birds.
Today, Knutson has a loyal customer base and a waiting list every year to purchase one of her Thanksgiving turkeys.
One such customer is Carol Snyder who lives in Seaside. A two-time cancer survivor, Snyder found Knutson while she and her family were looking for healthy, local options.
“I am a big proponent of knowing your grower,” Snyder stated. “It is important to pay attention to where our food is from and how it is processed.”
Part of the process for Knutson is focusing on giving her animals as happy and healthy a life as she can.
“I am more interested in always accessing the best that I can for my animals, my ranch and my customers,” Knutson said. “The animals have to be happy. They cannot be stressed. It reflects in the end product. If the animal is in a stressful environment you can taste the difference.”
The quality produced through this method is what brings Knutson’s customers back year after year to purchase their Thanksgiving turkey.
Snyder said she got such a positive response from the taste, size and quality of the bird that her family and friends see eating one of Knutson’s turkeys as a yearly tradition.
“The first year the turkey was so big and beautiful,” Snyder said. “It barely fit in my oven. Everyone was raving about it.”
For Knutson, “Thanksgiving is family and having a heart that is filled with gratitude with the opportunities that we have where we live. The freedoms that we have. Just to be extremely grateful. To have a holiday based on Thankfulness takes my words away.”
To purchase one of her turkeys for next Thanksgiving, Knutson advises people to start reaching out to her around Valentine’s Day.
More information on Knutson and Pasture Chick Ranch, visit the ranch’s Facebook page.