Saturday, June 21, 2014

Turkey Creek Bee Farm Outing

Bee Hives busy with bees
Nestled away on just over and acre and a half, sits this small urban farmstead known as Turkey Creek Bee Farm.  Located at 1246 Manning Drive in Sumter, S.C. it's less than 15 minutes from downtown Sumter, but transports you to a whole different world once you arrive.
Here Leroy raises bees for honey, chickens for eggs, chickens for meat and a variety of organic produce he and his family sell seasonally Wednesdays-Saturdays on the farm. 5th grade science and math teacher by day, and bee keeper and farmer by night and weekends, this little urban farmstead has a lot going for it.
What started in April with me reaching out to Leroy and arranging a group tour, culminated with our visit today, which was the first day of summer, and naturally one of the hottest days of the year so far. We arrived just ahead of our 10 a.m. appointment, but Leroy was ready for us, and all of us were anxious to hear about this little gem of a place.
Fresh honey
 "We started with bees three years ago because I had bad allergies to local pollen and flowers and a friend informed me of eating local honey to reduce allergies. I decided to start a facebook page and polled my friends and family about their desire to purchase honey. Their response was amazing. Last spring we harvested 47 lbs. total from our hives and sold it all in less than 3 hours," Leroy explained. 
"After reading several reports and watching several documentaries on the chemicals used in the processing of meat and veggies by the food industry, I decided I had to do something to help my family eat food that
Leroy Steigerwalt, owner

was natural and healthy. It just so happened that a fellow colleague was hatching chickens in her classroom and needed someone to take the birds. I gladly accepted and decided to raise and butcher the birds for my family. After posting on our page about the chickens being raised on all organic methods my friends and family started asking to purchase chickens from us. 

Chickens being raised for meat
Thus began the poultry division of our little farm. We raise our birds on all organic feed that contains no animal proteins. We also do not medicate or treat our birds with any chemicals or steroids. We pride ourselves on our chickens being raised in the healthiest means possible. My favorite saying for our chickens is, "If your chicken tastes like everything else, there is something
Laying Hens eating grasses
wrong with your chicken." Every month we raised chickens we never seemed to have enough. This demand for high quality 100% Organic Chicken led us to build a large chicken house with automated temperature controls and watering system in order to accommodate our customers. We ended the season butchering 60 birds per butcher and this year we are already at 60 birds and look to end the season with 100 per butcher. Our birds average 5+lbs. and are honestly the best chicken you will ever put in your mouth. 

Organic Yellow Squash
One of our farmer friends suggested we start selling produce to go with the chickens. This was the one thing missing from my family eating healthy and reducing the poisons we were ingesting. After polling friends, family, and customers we had no choice but to begin selling produce but insisted that it be fresh and if
Organic Green Beans
we could not shake the hand of the man that grew it, we simply would not sell it. Last season we only sold South Carolina produce that was grown by ourselves or people that we created relationships with. All of the produce we carried was picked the same day we purchased it. After three days we would eat it ourselves, give it to the neighbors, or donate it to the local fire dept. My thinking was and is,
Organic Blueberries
if you are buying produce that is three days old or more, you may as well be buying from the grocery store. 

This year we have expanded our growing operation in hopes to only sell things that we grow ourselves. 
Our offer the finest 100% Organic, medicine free, hormone free, animal protein free chicken available; as well as the freshest handpicked vegetables and fruit that can be grown. 
If people buying from the grocery stores think the food is healthy and fresh they need to stop on by and check us out. Our products sell themselves and speak volumes for the public needs and desire for truly fresh food. Food that tastes the way nature intended it ... tomatoes are not all supposed to be the same shape and color, and chickens are not supposed to taste like everything else."

Because he sells out of his products so quickly, my best advice to you is get out there early Wednesday or Thursday so you have the best selection. I know that's what I'm going to do, because if you wait until later on Friday or Saturday they may already be sold out ... yes, it sells that fast because it's that good and the prices are very reasonable. In fact, they're some of the best prices I've seen.

Follow Turkey Creek Bee Farm on Facebook
Contact Turkey Creek Bee Farm 803-795-9289

Today's recipe! Asian Chicken Noodle Bowl featuring organic green beans from Turkey Creek Bee Farm

1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tbls. butter
1 small handful thin spaghetti noodles
4 chicken breast tenders, sliced  into thin strips
1-2 cups fresh organic green beans, ends trimmed
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1-2 tsp. black pepper
2 tbls. Teriyaki sauce
1-2 tbls. corn starch
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water, or more as needed

Rinse and blanch fresh green beans in a small sauce pan in boiling water 1-2 minutes; drain and set aside.  In a large covered fry pan, melt butter and add almonds and spaghetti noodles, stirring to brown slightly. Add chicken, green beans and sliced green onion.  Sprinkle with corn starch and black pepper; add chicken stock and Teriyaki sauce, stirring until everything is well blended (add 1 cup water if needed to keep from becoming too thick). Cover and simmer 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through, spaghetti noodles are cooked and green beans are crisp tender. Serve immediately in large bowls.

Yield:  2-4 servings

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