New at the Farm Market: Turkeys

Farm Market worker and senior culinology student Quinn Zweigle (left) prepares turkeys for Shoshannah Henderson (right), her husband Justin and daughter Ambrosia at the Farm Market Saturday morning. Justin Henderson said he has been coming out to the Farm Market since he was Ambrosia’s age, and now has to drive there from the other side of town.
Shaun Ho / The Collegian

Any customer stopping by the Fresno State Farm Market this week will see an array of products worthy of any Thanksgiving feast, including student-raised frozen turkeys.

The Fresno State Turkey Project — a program uniting the campus and local company Zacky Farms — is giving students the opportunity to experience the process of raising turkeys and preparing them for sale at the campus’ Farm Market.

Since the program’s introduction this past summer, it has provided the campus with a means of working with poultry hands-on.

“It gives [students] a good insight to the industry,” said Michelle Ganci, an animal science professor who oversees the poultry unit. “They understand the finances of it [and] the health aspect of it, things of that nature. It’s really comprehensive.”

Before the program began, the market did not sell any poultry-based products.

Quinn Zweigle, a Farm Market student employee and senior culinology major, said customers were requesting poultry and so the project was a way to “venture out” from its current inventory of meats — beef, lamb and rabbit.

Zacky Farms, which also provides summer internships for students at its facilities, provides the turkeys. Then the students take responsibility for them until they are ready to be packaged.

“The instructors are there to help out students and guide them and teach them,” Zweigle said. “But the students are the ones going out and actually feeding the turkeys. Mostly all the work that is involved is student-based.”

The turkeys, acquired live from Zacky Farms, are raised at the by the Farm Market employees as a part of the Fresno State Turkey Project. The frozen turkeys sell at the Farm Market for $1.09 a pound.
Shaun Ho / The Collegian

Ganci said raising the turkeys involves feeding and watering them, monitoring their health and maintaining a healthy and safe environment overall. All of this is done at the campus farm.

Once the turkeys have grown to a marketable size, Zacky Farms finishes the rest of the process at its facilities. The product’s package bears the Fresno State name, showing customers that the turkeys are the result of the students’ efforts, Zweigle said.

“You kind of get to learn a little bit more as you sell it,” Zweigle said, “because we have to have a certain amount of information and knowledge of the product itself, and we kind of gain that from working with the turkeys.”

Ganci said this holiday season will be the first time for the project and the market to see how well the whole turkeys sell. She said the project continues to be “in the infantile stages” as far as creating specialty turkey-based products, such as turkey lunch meat, turkey roast and breast meat.

“There are a lot of opportunities to do specialty products down the road,” Ganci said.

For now, the focus is on using the next batch of turkeys as whole-body turkeys for customers to use on Thanksgiving.

“You’re not getting something that was raised 100 miles away or in a whole different state,” Zweigle said. “You’re getting something that’s raised right here in the middle of Fresno.”

Other holiday-themed products can also be found throughout the store. Bags of festively dyed green and red yogurt-covered raisins — another student produced item — are offered. An assortment of flavored jams and jellies are available. All goods purchased at the market can be gift-wrapped as well.

Farm Market

• Location: Southeast corner of Barstow and Chestnut avenues (access from Barstow).

• Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

• Phone: 278-4511

• All proceeds benefit Fresno State’s Agriculture program.

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