Free-range fowl being gobbled up on P.E.I. as seasonal bird of choice

Steve Sharratt
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Vernon Bridge farmer Mathias Drake power lifts a few 25 pounders as sales of turkeys mushroom this year at Steerman’s Meat operation east of Charlottetown.

Local turkey still king as urge to purchase locally-raised Christmas turkey from local farm is stronger than ever

VERNON BRIDGE – Rigs have been rolling down the muddy and rutted roads of this section of rural P.E.I. for some time.

There is no disappointment. In fact, the urge to purchase a locally raised Christmas turkey from a local farm is stronger than ever.

“Our orders are up substantially,” says Scott Drake, who runs the family operation of Steerman’s Meat, where natural meat products are available on a year-round basis. “I really think the interest is part of the buy local campaign.”

Everyone wants a turkey this time of year and Drake’s son Mathias admits it’s a challenge to fill all the orders. The younger Drake is taking over the turkey business as he winds up his graduate program in agriculture in Nova Scotia.

“I always ask my customers to be the judge and let them determine whether they prefer a turkey grown and allowed to wander on our Vernon Bridge farm over the one’s at the store,’’ says Mathias.

“I think that’s why our sales continue to grow.”

According to legend, Benjamin Franklin’s choice for the national bird of the United States was the turkey, but that has been debunked by the United States Diplomacy Centre, but the noble fowl was a favoured food of First Nations people.

The Drake operation — Steerman’s Meats — isn’t the easiest place to find in eastern P.E.I., tucked down a back road with a vista of Orwell Bay.

Scott Drake is always amazed at the amount of traffic coming down his dead end road searching for the natural meat products from his family operation.

“All summer long and into the fall, we have tourists finding their way here via our website to get farm fresh Island raised beef for the dinner table,” he says. “These are people who find our meat in specialty shops in larger cities but find it difficult to locate our specialty products in local stores in this province.”

Sales of turkey and other fowl are strong enough for this farm family to expand their operations and allow Mathias to take over the future operations.

Organizations: United States Diplomacy Centre, First Nations

Geographic location: P.E.I., VERNON BRIDGE, Nova Scotia United States Orwell Bay

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Recent comments

  • Jeannie P
    December 28, 2015 - 13:36

    Every year at Christmas we are lucky enough to purchase our fresh turkey from Clive and Cole Currie of Fairview. Most days we drive past the barn where the turkeys have room to roam, breath in fresh air and generally be happy. They are not known to be the most intelligent creatures however when properly raised and fed they make an awesome Christmas dinner. Thanks Clive and Cole! Hope you keep doing what you do so well. Happy New Year!

  • Free range eggs too?
    December 28, 2015 - 09:18

    Can anyone explain why they can't sell free-range eggs, but they can sell free-range meat?