Thanksgiving dinners still are being fed up in Tarbarcia. But not for long.
Gentleman farmer Garry Wiersum plans to harvest the last six of this season’s turkeys today or over the weekend. The 65-year-old expat has been raising turkeys in an organic way for four years, and this year his small flock produced 45 main courses.
Wiersum is one of those expats who came to Costa Rica and settled at the beach. He had been in Arizona. Circumstances brought him to his current home in Ciudad Colón. The farm and the turkeys are in Tarbarcia between his home and Puriscal.
He is living the dream many expats seek. He is growing corn, vegetables and now turkeys. This is not a matter of letting a few birds run around the yard. Wiersum said Thursday that raising turkeys is very difficult. He spent a lot of time researching the birds, mainly on the Internet.
“I think the Internet has a future,” he joked. He collects the eggs and incubates them. That takes 30 days. Then the chicks are ready for market when they are about five and a half to six kilos, some 12 to 13 pounds.
Wiersum is particular what he feeds the birds. He said he grows his own corn and discovered that the young turkeys are crazy about bananas. He has plenty of these plants, too.
Growing turkeys is far different from his life in corporate America, and he is quick to say that his birds are not the Butterball variety that are found in supermarkets. Instead, he said, they resemble wild turkeys, the kind the Pilgrims hunted. He raises a Narragansett breed and said that his birds turn out to be very flavorful. Of course, he does not use hormones or other chemicals that are common with commercial growers.
He has been so successful with turkeys that he now is experimenting with chickens.
Wiersum admits that turkeys have a reputation for being a very dumb creature, but he said that this is a result of selective breeding. Wild turkeys, he said, are very savvy.
Those butterball and other commercial varieties mostly come from the United States frozen. Depending on the weight, they are being sold this year from 12,000 to 22,000 colons, a bit more than $24 to $45.
Wiersum’s product is competitive, but he also notes that he raises and sells turkeys all year long. Most supermarkets do not.