North Carolina Turkey Farm Competes With The National Players

11/27/17

By Hampton Crumpler, NC BIZ News

Homestead Harvest Farm, a small farm in Wake Forest, North Carolina, has experienced a decline in Thanksgiving turkey sales this year.

Commercial turkeys, such as Butterball, only graze for 16 weeks. Homestead Harvest Farms, on the other hand, lets its turkeys graze for 37 weeks before harvesting them to ensure they are plump. This extended grazing time means the farm can only focus on selling turkeys in November.

In 2016, the farm sold 55 turkeys, which resulted in a profit of $5,700. This year, turkey sales decreased 14.5 percent for the farm, resulting in a gain of only $4,873.50.

Jan Campbell, owner of Homestead Harvest Farm, said it’s tough to get people to buy small farm turkeys because they fear it will be unsafe to eat.

“Consumers like to get their turkeys from grocery stores because they know it is inspected,” she said. “What they don’t realize is that harvesting on the farm has inspections as well. We don’t have a paid USDA official inspecting the turkeys, but we have to take care to inspect them ourselves because if we sell one bad turkey, we’re out of business.”

For 11 years, Campbell has relied primarily on word-of-mouth advertisement for her business. She said that tasting is believing.

“Everyone should try something new in their lifetime,” she said. “If you get a free-range turkey from us, you’ll have to hold your breath while paying for it, but once you eat it, you’ll realize what real turkey tastes like.”

Depending on the weight of the turkey, prices range from $72 to $120. The farm charges $9 per pound on its turkeys.

To stay afloat, the farm also sells a lot of chicken eggs and duck eggs year round. Last year, the farm sold 3,000 dozen eggs total. The total revenue on eggs last year was $18,000. Campbell said that the farm is on target to sell the same amount of eggs this year.

Cynthia Castor, a customer of Homestead Harvest Farm, bought her first small farm turkey this year.

“I bought a turkey from Homestead this year for several reasons,” she said. “First, I like to support local farmers. Also, I wanted to get the freshest and most organic turkey for my family. I was referred to the farm by a friend of mine who was raving about it, so I had to give it a try.”

The farm gives customers a chance to pick out their turkey via email. Once the turkey has been harvested, it can be picked up at either Carrboro Farmers’ Market or Midtown Farmers’ Market at North Hills in Raleigh.

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, some consumers will be in the market for fresh organic eggs and meats. The National Retail Federation is projecting that consumers will spend an average of $967.13 this holiday season. Additionally, total holiday retail spending is expected to be between $678.8 billion and $682 billion.

Even though 59 percent of consumers plan to shop online for the holidays, 46 percent of consumers plan to shop in grocery stores and supermarkets so they can see the food they are purchasing.

Campbell said she is hopeful that her sales will spike in the next few weeks. If she gets a substantial amount of people buying from her farm instead of a grocery store, Homestead Harvest Farm will crank out a larger profit.

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