By, Pam Teel
The Lee Turkey Farm is rich in history. The farmhouse dates back to 1802 and all the original barns are still standing today. The Lee family has farmed the land for six generations, since 1868. Located in East Windsor, its just 2.5 miles south west of Hightstown.
Nestled on 54 acres in suburbia East Windsor, the farm raises over 5,000 turkeys annually. For over 60 years, the Lee Farm has been producing turkeys of the finest quality. The turkeys are fed a natural feed mix made by them and are raised without medications and hormones. You can purchase oven ready turkeys, turkey parts, and turkey burgers year round. They also take advance orders for oven ready turkeys for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays.
The farm also has acres and acres of fruit trees and acres of vegetables of all kinds for the picking, and for those that are not interested in picking your own, you can chose fresh picked fruits and vegetables direct from their farm market. Vegetables and fruits on hand include string beans, broccoli, sweet peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, Italian flat beans, cabbage, sweet corn, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, tomatoes, peach cider, pure honey, turkey and turkey parts, turkey burgers, cut flowers, and more.
The Lee family welcomes both new patrons from the tri state area and patrons that frequent the farm on a daily basis. If you check on their facebook site, you can get farm operation hours and you can see what’s ready to pick.
Ronnie and Janet Lee currently own the farm, which was originally purchased by Ron’s great- great- great grandfather in 1868. The original farmhouse, built by Aaron Forman in 1802, is still on the property and is now home to Ron’s family.
The Lee family ancestry was lucky to have survived through hard economic times such as the Great Depression, but they can successfully boast that they have managed to farm their land for six generations, weathering both bad times and good times. Today Ron and his son Dylan work side by side planting and maintaining the farm. You can find Ron’s wife Janet working at the farm market on the property.
To say it’s a family affair is something of an understatement. Ron’s parents, Dick and Ruth, still live in a small farmhouse on the property and Ron’s Dad still helps out around the farm. Dylan’s two siblings also help out in other ways. No matter how far apart they are, their heart is all about the continuation of their farm.
Toward the beginning of the 19th century, Ron’s ancestors focused on planting fruit orchards. Half the farm was apples and the other half were assorted fruits. Ron’s great grandfather, Charles and his son Levi, ran a successful farm until the great depression hit but somehow they managed to scrape by. It was actually Levi’s son, Dick, who at eleven years old, joined the 4-H club and asked if he could try to raise some turkeys, thus the beginning of the turkey business. He started out with 100 turkeys and lost many of them to disease, but eventually found a way to stop the spread of the disease and successfully raise his turkeys.
Dick eventually went into the army and when he got out, he found out that his dad owed the bank a lot of money due to the depression, and that he was thinking of selling the place to pay the bank back. Dick suggested that instead of raising a few hundred turkeys, they should raise thousands of them. So they did. When processing plants were subjected to so many different rules, the Lee’s decided to process the turkeys themselves. They eventually built retail routes to supply turkeys to the locals. They also supplied chickens, eggs, fruit, and vegetables.
In 1964, Ron’s parents started the first “pick you own” farm in New Jersey, which was a big success. Ron went into a partnership with his parents in 1984.
Ron loves to meet new people and greet the frequent patrons that come by the farm. Since the 1960’s, busloads of school children come to visit the farm and are given the grand tour by Ron himself. To date, Ron is the only guide on the property. He has the personality for the job and no one knows every inch of this farm better than him, except perhaps his son Dylan! To date, Ron does not sell his turkeys to any markets. If you want a fresh turkey, you can come and pick one up or order one.
Ron and his son Dylan are up with the roosters and work all day, picking fresh fruits and vegetables for their market, planting, and making sure everything they grow is the best in quality. They use minimum chemicals on their products, only when necessary. Ron also likes to give back to the community and donates a lot of his produce and fruits to the NJ Farmers against Hunger Organization.