The Turkey Farm
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Name:      The Turkey Farm

Location:  219 Mile Hill Road

                 New Sharon, Maine  04955

Phone:      207-778-2889



Products and Services:

-naturally raised turkeys

-a large variety of turkey products

What Makes The Turkey Farm So Unique?

If you have ever driven on Route 27 in the New Sharon area, it’s relatively easy to locate The Turkey Farm.  Bob and Marilyn Neal have raised thousands of turkeys on their sixty-acre farm since 1980.  Each year they change the range where the turkeys graze so that various fields can be replaced with plantings of peas and barley.  If you drive by regularly and don’t notice the turkeys in the location where you once saw them, it’s safe to bet that you will spot hundreds of turkeys in one of the other ranges in the seven-acre fenced area.

If you haven’t had the pleasure to get to know the Neals or taste one of their many delicious turkey products, then you might not be aware of the many obstacles that they have faced over the years.  They are a great example of farmers who exhibit a fierce tenacity and an amazing work ethic.

Bob Neal suffered a heart attack in 2010, and Marilyn Neal has battled ovarian cancer

for the past five years.  In addition to these serious health conditions, there have been

many challenges to their farm operation over the years.

In 1989, the Neals miscalculated the wholesale price for their 2,200 turkeys and they ended up losing a considerable amount of money.  In 2004 and 2010, they faced cholera outbreaks in their flocks.  At the present time, the skyrocketing cost for grain and finding a source for genetically-clean feed have been some of their biggest challenges.

Turkeys are cold-blooded and face threats of hypothermia in cold and wet weather and need to be directed towards shelter.  Mortality rates can often be high. Changing state and federal regulations have often caused extra expense and energy for farmers.  Despite all the bumps along the road that have been presented,  the Neals still persist in their goal of offering quality naturally raised turkeys.

Bob and Marilyn weren’t always turkey farmers. They met in 1964, when Marilyn was a student of the University of the Seven Seas.  Bob wrote for several newspapers for twenty years before he and Marilyn relocated from Ohio to New Sharon.  He  taught journalism at the University of Southern Maine during his first three years in Maine. Marilyn worked in the home-health industry for thirteen years.

Like many “back to the land” enthusiasts of

the 1980’s, the Neals were hoping to be able to make a living from growing and selling vegetables and other farm products.  When

the demand for their free-range turkeys began to take hold in 1986, the Neals decided that turkeys would become their major focus. They have built a reputation for the taste, texture, and healthfulness of their free range turkeys and they have become the largest producer of turkeys in the state of Maine.  The Neals are the exclusive supplier of turkey to the College of the Atlantic and to the Scratch Baking Company in South Portland.

To say that the Neals have fully embraced

“all things turkey” is a little bit of an understatement.  When you walk into their

farm store, you can’t help but notice the

colorful, whimsical turkey mural painted

by their son, Rob Neal.  His “Versatile Turkey” image has become the logo of their business. As you walk around the store, there are turkey stuffed animals, turkey awards, turkey signs, and plenty of turkey farm products to purchase.  Bob and Marilyn have made a concerted effort to incorporate local Maine foods in their value added products.

Have you ever heard of that old saying,

“Let’s talk turkey” that invites someone

to have a serious, frank conversation?

Bob Neal has been literally and figuratively

“talking turkey” for many years.  He might

have left his position at one of the many city

newspapers, but he hasn’t given up his love of writing.  Since 2005, he has put together

quarterly editions of The Turkey Times.

You can learn all about his views on various

government regulations, trends in farming,

and issues that concern him and other farmers throughout Maine in this publication that he has posted on the farm’s website.

Bob Neal’s views on national developments in farming are not just expressed in his quarterly newspaper.  On the day that the photos were taken for this profile, the large sign in front of their farm store addressed the issue of farmers being subsidized to grow corn for ethanol use.  The message on the sign was: “Tell Congress to stop pouring food into gas tanks.”  Neal describes himself as a “radical moderate with no place for me in the current political spectrum.”

Despite the many challenges, Bob and Marilyn keep on going.  They have come a long way since the one hundred turkeys that they first raised and sold in 1986.  In 1990, they built a slaughterhouse.  That same year they became the second farm in Maine to offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares.  They now have 100 CSA customers.

The Neals constructed their large brooder-house in 1992.  Two years later they expanded the slaughterhouse.  In 1996, they built their farm store.  They began a food concession business in 1987, and sold turkey dinners and sandwiches at the Fryeburg Fair for twenty-one years and at the Common Ground Fair for thirteen years.  Their inventory now includes three refrigerated trucks.

There was a period of time when the Neals

were raising between 3,300 and 4,100 turkeys each year.  With the heart and cancer conditions and additional challenges brought about by Bob breaking his right arm in 2010, the wholesale accounts needed to be reduced.  The Neals have slowly been increasing their wholesale accounts once again.

Over the years the Neals have built up an impressive array of turkey products.  In addition to whole turkeys, they offer a variety of many cuts of turkey. There is also a choice of Turkeyaki, Smoked Maple Turkey Breasts, Ground Turkey, Turkey Salad, Turkey Pies and Shepherd’s Pies.  Several different types of turkey sausage are now sold including: Mild Breakfast, Spicy Breakfast, Blueberry-Maple Breakfast, Garlic Lovers’, Italian, Andouille, Chorizo, Turkey-Apple Sausage with Leeks, Turkey-Cranberry Sausage, Smoked Kielbasa Links, Bratwurst, Bavarian Summer Sausage, and Korv Swedish Potato Sausage Links.  All these farm products can be ordered online.

Several recipes and information about the storage and roasting of turkeys can be found on The Turkey Farm’s website:  The Turkey Farm also has a Facebook page.

Despite suffering a heart attack, Bob Neal is

still going strong.  At seventy-three years of age, you are apt to see him at a number of

locations throughout the state.  He attends

the Brunswick Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm on Saturday mornings from

May through October, and the Brunswick Winter Farmers’ Market at Fort Andross from November through April.  On Thursday afternoons he sells his turkey products at the South Portland Farmers’ Market in the summer.  Bob participated in the Maine Harvest Festival in Bangor this past November and led a talk on small poultry production.

Bob and Marilyn raised two sons.  Their oldest son, Rob, is an artist.  Christopher, their younger son, is a cook and musician.  Bob joked that their sons are “way too smart to farm.”  Perhaps their sons have chosen other pursuits, but they will always have the distinction of growing up on a farm where their parents were viewed as the “Turkey Experts of Maine!”

Bob and Marilyn Neal

Bob discusses orders with Danielle.

The Turkey Farm had a booth at the 2012 Harvest Festival in Bangor.  Bob led a talk about poultry production.

Bob discusses farm chores with Cory.