Chickens and ducks, geese and hogs, donkeys and sheep, and cats aplenty roam freely on the lush green pasture, enjoying the Florida sunshine and soy-free organic feed. Their paradise is Twin Oaks Farm, the area’s only certified USDA Organic farm, set on 94 acres in nearby Bonifay, in operation since 2008.
Run by owner Renee Savary, along with a staff of two, the farm raises heritage chickens, ducks, geese, sheep and pigs on the pasture the old fashioned way, she says — by putting in long hours no matter the weather. “It’s a lot of work — 15 hours a day, seven days a week,” she says. “It’s also a lot of trial and error, and it’s getting better with the years.”
In doing it the old fashioned way, Savary says there are two things she cannot do — cheap and fast. Her Thanksgiving turkeys, for example, take months to mature. “Turkeys grow slowly and we care about the wellbeing of the birds,” she says. The birds will be around five months old this Thanksgiving.
Twin Oaks is the only certified USDA Organic and soy free farm in the area. The apiary, which houses colonies of bees, ensures the bees can build strong hives by providing ample forage. Most importantly, she says, they provide them an adequate supply of their own honey. “The first year we do not harvest the honey at all,” she says. “The second year, we only harvest in the spring and then let the bees build their reserves for the winter.”
The farm is committed to organic practices, the cultivation of non-genetically modified vegetables and fruits and the breeding of heritage livestock in an effort to support their conservation. The farm’s production is small and authentic.
Fresh preserves, flavored butter, herbal vinegar and chutney are produced right on the farm with the freshest ingredients using fruits found only in Florida, as well as certified organic evaporated cane juice. Glass jars filled with the naturally sweet goodies are topped with decorative cloth tied with straw, making an ideal holiday gift. New flavors this year include strawberry pinot noir and fig chocolate. Or try the ever-favorite strawberry rhubarb, pear butter or any of more than a dozen flavors. For the holidays, Savary even offers free gift-wrapping.
A farm tour, held in conjunction with the annual regional tour in October, offers a closer look at what they do. There, visitors can see the Rhode Island Red hens, which produce the No. 1 eggs in the country, according to the Cornucopia Institute Eggs Score Card. The gentle Gulf Coast sheep, ducks, geese, turkeys and donkeys roam freely on the pasture and are always ready for a photo op. At the bistro, Under the oak, guests can savor some delicious organic farm-produced food.
With another new year approaching, this is the perfect time to embrace the farm-fresh, organic, real-food life, and you can start with the Seaside Farmers Market and Twin Oaks Farms.
Editor’s Note: To reserve a turkey, contact Renee Savary at Twin Oaks Farm, (850) 547-5636, firstname.lastname@example.org or in person at the Seaside Farmers Market. The turkeys will be delivered to the market the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
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