Meet Lara and Jim Turco of Turco Farms from Springfield, Nebraska!
Pastured poultry and grassfed beef, raised on a piece of prairie paradise!
Turco Farms offers:
- Pastured Chicken
- Pastured Turkey
- Grassfed Beef
“Bringing a parade of life back to the land – plants, bugs, birds, butterflies, owls, chickens and cattle.”
16 years ago, when Lara and Jim Turco bought land outside of Springfield, Nebraska it was farmed conventionally with soybeans and corn. To control the use of chemicals around their family’s home, in 2016 they made the decision to convert the farmland to native prairie grasses and forbs. The result of their prairie restoration? As Lara says, “The soil slowly came back to life. And when the soil came back to life, the bugs, butterflies, birds, snakes, voles, and owls flocked to this oasis.”
A grassland ecology also includes grazers, peckers, and scratchers. In the Turco’s case, first they added pastured chicken to their farm. Chickens – 300 in 2022, and 700 in 2021 – are raised on grass, in mobile structures that offer some protection from predators and the elements. The mobile “chicken tractors” are moved regularly to new patches of pasture where they do what comes naturally to chickens – hunt bugs, scratch, nibble plants and enjoy fresh air.
A more recent addition to the farm is a small herd of Lowline Aberdeen Angus cattle. This breed of cattle was developed in Australia, and selected for its size, efficiency and meat quality. These cattle are black and smaller than the typical herd you see. They thrive on grass, are docile and their meat is tender. Their smaller stature means they don’t need as many acres to graze, making them popular with smaller cattle producers.
Baby turkeys will arrive on the farm in July, and be raised on Turco Farm’s pasture. Living their best turkey lives means being outdoors in the sun and fresh air, pecking and scratching, and eating plenty of insects. The turkeys will be available for purchase in the late fall – just in time for Thanksgiving dinners.
“People comment that our chickens taste like good, old-fashioned chicken! And it reminds them of their grandparents, bringing back memories of helping prepare chicken for family dinner.”
What drives Lara and Jim to do what they do? They have a passion for nature and raising animals in a way that positively impacts the land, animal and human health. Lara explained that she and Jim were raised in the city and didn’t have a lot of experience to go on. Throughout their journey they’ve found mentors through books on farming, youtube channels and in-person workshops. Lara jokes that they are a “youtube farm.”
Humans have been raising crops and tending livestock for thousands of years, and the skills and information to do so have been passed from generation to generation, with tweaks and changes along the way. Youtube, virtual learning and long-distance mentorships are a modern form of that transmission of knowledge. Technology and the internet can be wonderful tools to gain skills and connect – Turco Farms shows us that no matter your background, you can learn, connect with others and create the life you envision for yourself, your family and our planet.
Favorite Parts of Farming
Lara’s two favorite parts of farming are moving cattle and meeting new people. Cattle are moved on Turco Farms everyday to new paddocks where they graze intensely on lush green plants whilst depositing natural fertilizer to the land. Being around the cattle in a beautiful pasture, noticing their behavior and demeanor is something that Lara loves.
She also values the connection with customers. Hearing stories, exchanging recipes, and having conversations turn customers into new friends. These relationships are an important reason why locally grown food means so much to so many people. The bond you form when you can look someone in the eye, and talk with them is strong. That person, be it a farmer or a customer, becomes a part of your “circle of care” and community.
Tips for cooking local chicken
Have you ever noticed the difference in taste and texture between a locally grown tomato harvested in July versus a store bought tomato? The locally grown tomato tastes like a tomato! Its flavor is much more intense and pleasurable. Same goes for fresh local meat. The flavors are punched up and delicious. Here are some tips for cooking local chicken that Lara shared:
- Try using the Insta-Pot to make tender, shredded chicken. Perfect for BBQ chicken sandwiches, or tacos.
Learn more about making Insta-Pot shredded chicken here: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/instant-pot-shredded-chicken/
- Ever heard of spatchcock chicken? Also known as butterflied chicken. This method involves cutting out the chicken’s backbone so that it can lay flat on a pan or grill. It takes about 25% less time to cook, and the breast and thigh meat cook more evenly.
Learn more about spatchcock chicken here: https://flavorthemoments.com/how-to-spatchcock-chicken-and-why-you-should-do-it/
Where you can find Turco Farms meat:
- Email or Call or DM Turco Farms to order grassfed beef, pastured chicken and pastured turkey.
- Facebook Page