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Fresh: Oz Family Farm adds turkeys

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Oz Family Farm has been discovered. After several years of raising rabbits for meat as a 4-H project, the Dry Creek Valley farm took its endeavor to the public, offering dressed rabbits, rabbit manure and rabbit skins at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market. They also have been selling rabbit to local and Bay Area restaurants.

Now they’ve added heritage turkeys and geese, and recently, both Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Quince in San Francisco have placed orders.

Being able to count such restaurants, especially Chez Panisse, among your customers always gives a farm or ranch a boost, sometimes such a boost that products become hard to get locally.

To add the birds, Kelly Osman turned to Sylvia Mavalwalla of S and B Farm in Petaluma, who is something of a legend. For years, she was the only source for heritage turkeys and geese in the Bay Area.

During the week before Christmas, cars from all over the Bay Area zipped in and out of a driveway adjacent to the little pickup shack for their fresh birds, Mavalwalla’s glorious mane of long gray hair trailing behind her in the wind and making her look like some mythical figure.

My visits were always a high point of the holiday season.

Mavalwalla stopped raising the birds a few years ago, and ranchers slowly are stepping up to take her place, Oz Family Farm among them. She has helped with both advice and hands-on mentoring.

The turkeys, about 120 of them, are raised on open pasture, and their diet is supplemented with cracked corn and sunflower seeds.

There are two breeds, Bourbon Red and Midget White, and they can be picked up at the farmers market, though you must place an order in advance to reserve one. Cost is $6.99 a pound, and they are fresh, not frozen.

There are 40 geese this year, mostly American Buff. They, too, are raised on open pasture, and their diet is supplemented with organic winter squash. Their dressed weight is between 10 and 12 pounds; cost is $12 a pound.

The geese, which also are fresh (that is, not frozen), must be picked up at the farm.

Both turkeys and geese come with feet, head, liver and fat.

The birds are raised according to organic practices, but they are not currently certified.

In addition, the Osmans are working with animal welfare authorities and expect to have formal approval in place next year.

Oz Family Farm has rabbit all year, and production increases in the cooler months, so there should be plenty this winter. They are sold whole, with liver and kidneys.

If you want one of Oz Family Farm’s heritage birds for your holiday table, place your order right away.

If you’re not sure what to do with the feet, heads and such, visit “Eat This Now” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com, where I’ve posted my technique for preparing heritage turkeys.

Oz Family Farms was founded in 2003 by the Osman family. You’ll find them at the Santa Rosa Original Farmers Market on the first and third Saturdays.

For more information and to place an order, email kelly@ozfamilyfarm.com or call 696-2636.

Michele Anna Jordan has written 18 books to date, including the new “More Than Meatballs.” Email Jordan at michele@saladdresser.com. You’ll find her blog, “Eat This Now,” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

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