Five Hundred Years of Turkey History

When Cortez landed in the New World, Aztecs had long domesticated “huexolotlin,” the central American wild turkey. Taken back to Europe, this massive and splendid bird, compared to the, ‘til then available partridges, African chickens and Guinea fowl, became the rage. Dispersed and sold by “Turkey merchants,” vendors of Middle Eastern goods, the ‘turkey’-bird swept through Europe. New breeds, descendants of the Aztec birds were developed in Europe and Great Britain. The Black Spanish and English Norfolk Black were subsequently brought to New England to satisfy the burgeoning hunger of an exploding population. Long inbred in Europe, these breeds were re-invigorated in Rhode Island by mating with the North American wild turkey. About 300 years after the turkey was first brought to Europe, in the mid-1800s, the Narragansett breed, named for RI’s central inlet, was developed.
The Narragansett sports the wild stripes of its North American ancestors in subtle shades of silver, gray, eggshell-white, russet and bronze, and retains the central Americans’ knobby naked-head colors of blue turquoise and chili pepper red.
The Narragansetts’ numbers, as recently as the 1980s, teetered on extinction. We are strongly committed to helping restore these important genetics to the small farm specifically because the techniques and methods of our ‘new’ sustainable farming systems represent exactly the conditions for which these birds were developed and in which they thrived.
The organic feed we give them combined with their strong foraging tendencies provide them an invaluably diverse source of nutrients, which translates to, and in turn provides us with, complex nutrition and nuanced, rich and complex flavor.