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Raising Thanksgiving dinner

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Paul Larkin in barn
Paul Larkin stands in his barn that holds 4,000 free-roaming turkeys. The Larkin Bros. Farm, nestled in the hills of New Glasgow, produces 14,000 turkeys for households across P.E.I. during the Thanksgiving weekend.
Desiree Anstey/TC Media

Article in the Journal Pioneer

It’s always good to know where your food comes from, and Thanksgiving is no exception.

One of the biggest food holidays of the year, with Christmas and Easter following closely behind, one would be hard pressed to find a kitchen table in P.E.I. that didn’t have turkey as its main course.

And many of those turkeys have come from one place — Larkin Bros. Farm.

Nestled in the hills of New Glasgow, Larkin Bros. Farm started out small, gradually expanding from 10 to 14,000 birds.

The farmers work long, hard hours to ensure the birds are well looked after and that they have the right numbers to feed households from Summerside to Montague.

“Our dad purchased the farm back in 1975. At that time we were milking cows. We had some beef and pork, so it was a mixed operation. Then he started to grow a few turkeys for the family,” explained Paul Larkin. “We started with 15 or 20, and it gradually grew to 300 and continued.”

Today, the operation is the largest poultry farm on P.E.I.

“We kept knocking on doors to try and convince people to buy local,” said Larkin. “I really believe more people are starting to buy into it, leave the money on the Island, along with a green footprint.”

Customers can buy a Larkin turkey straight off the farm or in numerous stores throughout the Island, including all the Sobeys and Superstore locations.

The turkeys are purchased as day-old birds from a hatchery in Ontario before making the long journey to P.E.I.

“The birds come down in a climate-controlled truck a day after hatching. We keep them in a heated barn of about 90 degrees so they are warm for the first couple of weeks, and then we start to slow the heat down,” explained Larkin.

“Our feed doesn’t have any animal by-products or growth hormones in it, so it’s a little more expensive. Our barns are designed with huge doors on both ends to allow for natural ventilation, and that also allows the (free roaming) birds to see the outside, so it makes a happier and better bird.”

The Larkin family celebrated Thanksgiving with family and a home-raised turkey on the table.

“After a long day of work it was nice to sit down with family and have a Thanksgiving turkey from the farm,” said Larkin. “It’s always nice to sit down and have a turkey dinner.”