Thanksgiving is coming! We are proud to say that we will have a limited number of heritage turkeys available this year, with some from local growers Matt and Mandy Corry, of Schacht Meat Farm, right here on the southern outskirts of Bloomington, off East Schacht Road.
The Corry’s farm is family-owned and operated. This young couple produces healthy, local, grass-fed, sustainable, humanely raised, chemical-free food. They raise Icelandic sheep, cattle, heritage pastured Large Black breed pigs, free-range chickens, and heritage turkeys, using the practices of holistic animal husbandry.
I was able to tour their farm in August, during the annual meeting for the Local Growers Guild. We tramped along the fields, meeting pastures of animals along the way. Llamas guard the sheep and turkeys, Mandy explained, and they take their job very seriously. As we walked past, the sheep were engaged in a late afternoon race from one end of the field to the other, with their llama as referee. It was quite a sight. A handsome pig paced another field, acting as sheep protector.
All of the animals are raised and rotated on pasture with constant access to clean air, fresh water, warm sunshine, and lush forage. The Corry’s clean, healthy management practices eliminate the need for chemicals in the animals or on the soil.
Schacht Farm currently offers products at the Bloomington Community Farmers Market, the Bardstown Road Market in Louisville, and at both the Indianapolis and the Bloomington Winter Markets. They also sell directly from home on specific farm days.
Schacht Farm has been owned by Mandy’s family since the late 60s, when it was purchased by her grandparents. The original owners, the Schachts, were from Germany. They ran a local dairy farm called The Jersey Joy.
“We named the farm after this family because of the lasting impression they left here and the way their values closely reflect our own,” Mandy explains. “Reading letters and sermons written by Oscar Schacht, we learned that he was a Godly man who treated people fairly and was quite content to choose the right thing instead of the popular thing. He had a passion for raising healthy animals using natural methods. His legacy inspires us.”
The long-lasting structures Oscar Schacht built on the farm include a milkhouse (now used as the Corry home), a barn, beautiful tile silos, and a limestone bridge. “Oscar Schacht built things to last, being mindful of how they could be used by future generations. We manage the land and animals here with the same awareness,” say the new owners.
The Corrys moved to the farm in the summer of 2004, renovating the 1934 limestone milkhouse into their living quarters. Schacht Fleece Farm was started in the fall of 2005, with four ewes and two rams. “We thought we could butcher a few lambs, sell a few more, and have fiber to spin and knit,” Mandy explained. “Our vision for the farm was so very small then – we thought we’d add a few laying hens and that would be that. As we became more aware of what we were eating, where it comes from, and how it it typically raised, our vision for the farm changed. We added the laying hens to have eggs for our own consumption, then got some broilers, then a few steers, a pig – and over time we embarked on a new, exciting, very fulfilling journey. We now provide free-range eggs, free-range chicken, free-range heritage turkey, grass-fed Icelandic lamb, pastured heritage pork, and grass-fed beef to our customers and their families. Eventually we dropped the word ‘fleece’ in our original name, as our emphasis has changed.”
When giving a tour of the farm, Mandy talked about its rapid evolution. Her previous background was in psychology, and the crowd observed that her training undoubtedly comes in handy when studying the conditions required to raise healthy groups of animals. “We consider our original lack of vision to be part of this whole learning, growing and refining process,” Mandy said, as she listened to pasturing advice from other organic farmers in the group.
“The heritage turkeys are beautiful,” she agreed. “They have very sweet inquisitive personalities and they forage endlessly, making for an excellent flavored meat.”
You can visit www.schachtfleecefarm.com to learn more about these dedicated local growers. To reserve a Schacht Farm heritage turkey, please call the West Store and speak with Alan Simmerman. Quantities are extremely limited and they are going fast.
Heritage turkeys are smaller than some of the others we have available, running about 10-12 pounds each. You can learn more about the effort to sustain heritage turkeys at heritagefoodsusa.com.
by: Ellen Michel