Tuesday, April 7, 2015

PCG (Piedmont Culinary Guild) Member Profile

Meet PCG Member – Lee Menius: The Inevitable Farmer


Wild Turkey Farms Farmer/Owner  Lee Menius ... and friend.Growing up in Rowan County, farmer Lee Menius was surrounded by his family’s agricultural past. The 50 acres he still calls home have been handed from one generation to the next since at least 1870. Yet as a young man choosing a future path, farming was not on his radar. “I pretty much hated it when I was a kid,” he recalls over pizza at Charlotte’s 7th Street Public Market.
You’d never know it to talk lamb or pork production today with the lean man across the table. Sporting his ubiquitous ball cap combined with a placid, crinkled gaze, he masks a wicked sense of humor. Menius can rattle off processing weights and revenue estimates as easily as urbanites spouting Starbucks orders. The owner of China Grove’s Wild Turkey Farms (WTF) has a harder time figuring out what brought him so literally back to the land after starting college as a textile major.
“Good looking girls in animal science,” jokes his wife Domisty. “He decided to switch majors.”
Whatever it was, Lee ended up leaving NC State with both a future wife and an animal-science degree of his own. He shows no signs of regret as he and Domisty settle ever deeper into the farming life with their two young sons Charlie and Rosty.
It’s been 17 years since WTF came into existence, but only five since Lee left a job with the state’s Cooperative Extension to make the farm his sole source of income. 2015 marks another step in its growth, as WTF moves away from retail sales at local farmers’ markets to focus on wholesaling pork and lamb to area restaurants and food vendors.
As he discusses the business, two words continually crop up in Lee’s vocabulary: consistency and quality. He chose to raise Berkshire-cross pigs because of the breed’s reputation for high-quality marbled flesh, and he carefully manages his breeding program to retain amiable animals that produce reliably good meat.
“My goal is that everything you get from me is going to be high quality, and consistent quality all the way through.”
Lee feels lucky to have moved so quickly to a mostly wholesale business model, and recognizes the role played by Piedmont Culinary Guild.
“I think it’s been a really good networking opportunity for us as farmers to get in front of chefs,” he says, “and for chefs to talk to each other and to run into us.” Today Wild Turkey Farms counts about 15 regular restaurant clients around the city, including Pure Pizza, whose pie that day came topped with WTF chorizo. Through the PCG, Lee says he’s recently gotten another half-dozen inquiries from area chefs.
As unpredictable as his career trajectory has been, Lee has clear goals for the future of his farm. Through his years of hard-working experience and his association with PCG, Lee understands price pressures faced by restaurants, and has developed a reputation for working with chefs to get what they need at a price that makes sense.
“At the end of the year, you made money, I made money, we’re all happy and we’re in it together.”

Profile written by Alison Leininger

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Newsletter from the Davidson Farmer's Market


 Join us in Bidding a Warm Farewell to Wild Turkey Farms

 


 

Lee Menius - farmer, educator, father of two boys (Rosty 11 and Charlie almost 9), and husband to Domisty - has always aimed to build his farm to the point at which he could sustain through wholesale business. "Honestly, I didn't think we would be able to do it because of our small acreage," says Menius.

 But, they've done it!

 "Lee's and Domisty's presence at the Market, with their wide variety of offerings, really made it sing," says Davidson Farmers Market's first ever Market Manager, Mary Jane Leach. "To me, part of what makes them special is knowing that they really care about the animals and that they go the extra mile to do things well.  I've always admired their innovative approach to managing their farm and developing great products, and they are able to cater to chefs and the public while keeping it real.  What you see is what you get, and what you get is authentic goodness."

 
WTF has been a part of the Davidson Farmers Market family since it opened in the summer of 2007. And the same amount of time to the Salisbury Farmers Market. Known for their numerous pork products, chicken, beef, duck, turkey and eggs, WTF has come to the conclusion that pork is the most lucrative for their business. Because WTF has a breeding herd of pigs, he doesn't have to buy babies like he does with beef, and the pigs are ready to process in eight to nine months. "Pork is the direction I knew would carry us, and it's finally time to make the transition."

 In the last year, WTF's restaurant sales have tripled. Selling to numerous Charlotte restaurants, stretching to Monroe, UNCC area, Concord and Cornelius, chefs are talking and word-of-mouth has been the ticket. "Charlotte chefs visit their chef friends at their restaurants to eat and talk about the ingredients - they share information. That's how my restaurant business has increased. I've never pursued the restaurant business. Six or seven years ago I couldn't get restaurants to talk to me. Now they are coming to me." In addition to restaurants, Menius supplies whole animals to a butcher friend at Foothills Pasture Raised Meats, Black Mountain, just up I-40 on the way to Asheville. (http://www.foothillslocalmeats.com/)
.

 While you won't be able to buy WTF protein at the DFM anymore, you'll still be able to visit the farm in China Grove. Menius sells the equivalent of a mini-market in farm sales. Simply call or text Lee (704.202.9348) to make an appointment to visit the farm or place an order and he'll leave it in the cooler for you (with your name on it).

 "My seven year old Beck has spent many Saturday mornings with the WTF boys, Rosty and Charlie playing hide-and-seek, climbing trees, eating watermelon and running around with other Market and vendor kids. We will miss WTF's presence in many ways but are so happy for them that they have created a business model that will allow them to have more family time while still remaining prosperous," says Market Manager, Courtney Spear. 

 Best wishes Wild Turkey Farms!
The Davidson Farmers Market
Wild Turkeywtf and famWTF 
Beck and CharlieSpitting vendors 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Life Lately at WTF

 
A lot has been going on at WTF lately.  Lots of changes & lots of excitement.
 
 
 
Roo is growing like a weed.  It's hard to believe that she is only 5-months old!  She is getting acclimated to life at WTF.  Her counterpart Annie has accepted her but let's her know that she is still Head Guard Dog at WTF.


We all know I have a soft spot for the weaklings, runts, etc. so meet Pickles.  Pickles is a triplet whose mom decided that she would care for the other 2 & not him.  Lucky for him I saw this & scooped him up & for 3-nights I got up every 2-hours to feed him.  He finally got on a better schedule.  He has now moved out of our bathroom & is living at the farm.


See what a difference 2-weeks can make.  Plus, a lot of loving from his human mom!


We were very excited that the TV Show Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives was coming to Charlotte and filming at 300 East.  Our family was able to be there for the taping of the show.  One of the dishes that was featured was Wild Turkey Farms Braised Lamb & Mushroom Ragout.  If you haven't been to 300 East....go!!  Everything on the menu is delish (our kids love the pizza) but try the lamb....it's what Guy ate!
 
 
We had to turn our cellphones off during the filming so I have no pictures but one of the crew members gave the boys these.


Project time at WTF. 
This is the new maternity ward for the moma pigs. 
 
 
And on a final note, thanks to all who have supported us at the Farmer's Market in the last 8-years.  Even though we will not be at the Markets you can still visit us at the farm to purchase meats & eggs.  We will definitely miss our Market Family as well as our customers many of whom are like family to us but our kids our growing up...fast.  We don't want to look back & regret not spending time with them. 
 
 

Friday, March 20, 2015

WTF News- March 20th


Happy Friday

 

No markets tomorrow

 

 

For those that haven't heard- March 28 will be our last market at DFM and we will not be at the Salisbury Farmers' Market this upcoming season.

 

We have been fortunate enough to expand our business in other directions that allows us to concentrate on our pork production and spend more time on Saturdays with our family.  

 

After 8 years of only missing a handful of days during the summer at both Davidson and Salisbury we are looking forward to camping with our boys and spending quality time with our kayaks.  

We want to say from the bottom of our hearts that we really appreciate all of your support in the past 8 years that we have been selling at the farmers' markets. You have all become a second family to us and we will miss you (unless you come to the farm to buy). Of course we can now come spend some time as market customers so you may see us at the farmers market anyway....

 

We will still have our product available at the farm by appointment and at lots of great area restaurants and retailers.

 

 

 

 

For our Charlotte Peeps- Don't forget that we are keeping some items stocked at Greeneman Farms in the 7th Street Market.  They usually keep a variety of WTF products including our pork chops, sausages, ham steaks, ground lamb, and chicken.  If they don't keep what you want in stock, we'll be glad to drop off an order for you there so you can pick it up at your convenience.  

 

Don't forget to check out our Wild Turkey Farms Facebook page and "like" us to get the most up to date info.

    

 

We hope that you'll support some of the chefs & businesses that support us & other local farmers.

300 East- Charlotte

Greeneman Farms @ 7th Street Market- Charlotte

Pure Pizza @ 7th St Market - Charlotte

Whiskey Warehouse- Charlotte

Fork- Cornelius

Napa On Providence - Charlotte

The Asbury at The Dunhill Hotel- Charlotte

The Wineshop at Foxcroft- Charlotte

Heirloom- Charlotte

Customshop- Charlotte

Little Spoon- Charlotte

Passion 8 Bistro- Charlotte

Modpaleo- Charlotte


Foothills Meats- Black Mountain 

 

Thanks for your support, have a great weekend, and we'll see you at the market.

 

Lee, Domisty, Rosty, & Charlie

Wild Turkey Farms LLC

China Grove, NC

Friday, March 13, 2015

WTF News- March 13th


Happy Friday

 

 

Happy Friday the 13th!  Beware of machete wielding, hockey mask wearing people today (or pretty much any day...)

 

Looks like another cool & wet market day tomorrow so dress appropriately and come see us

 

Davidson Farmers Market 9-noon  

   -1 DAY ONLY- End of winter special- Smoked or Fresh Polish sausages only $6 per PACK!!!

 

 

 

For our Charlotte Peeps- Don't forget that we are keeping some items stocked at Greeneman Farms in the 7th Street Market.  They usually keep a variety of WTF products including our pork chops, sausages, ham steaks, gound lamb, and chicken.  If they don't keep what you want in stock, we'll be glad to drop off an order for you there so you can pick it up at your convenience.  

 

Don't forget to check out our Wild Turkey Farms Facebook page and "like" us to get the most up to date info.

    

 

We hope that you'll support some of the chefs & businesses that support us & other local farmers.

300 East- Charlotte

Greeneman Farms @ 7th Street Market- Charlotte

Pure Pizza @ 7th St Market - Charlotte

Whiskey Warehouse- Charlotte

Fork- Cornelius

Napa On Providence - Charlotte

The Asbury at The Dunhill Hotel- Charlotte

The Wineshop at Foxcroft- Charlotte

Heirloom- Charlotte

Customshop- Charlotte

Little Spoon- Charlotte

Passion 8 Bistro- Charlotte

 

Thanks for your support, have a great weekend, and we'll see you at the market.

 

Lee, Domisty, Rosty, & Charlie

Wild Turkey Farms LLC

China Grove, NC

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Snow 2015 Pictures

One thing we don't see a lot of here in our part of North Carolina is snow.  So when we get snow of any amount schools & businesses shut down & we try to enjoy.
 
We had 2 weeks of winter weather.  The first week was a light snow but brought lots of freezing rain & ice.   The second week we had about 4.5 inches of snow.
 
 
WEEK 1
 
Roo's first snow
 
 
 Pigs

 
Barn


Chickens


 
Pigeon in the Barn

 
 
 My driver
 
 
 WEEK TWO
 






Friday, February 27, 2015

WTF News- February 27th


Happy Friday

 

 

Happy Friday.  Hope you all are staying warm and dry.  Looks like another cool market day tomorrow so dress warm and come see us

 

Davidson Farmers Market 9-noon 

 

 

For our Charlotte Peeps- Don't forget that we are keeping some items stocked at Greeneman Farms in the 7th Street Market.  They usually keep a variety of WTF products including our pork chops, sausages, ham steaks, gound lamb, and chicken.  If they don't keep what you want in stock, we'll be glad to drop off an order for you there so you can pick it up at your convenience.  

 

Don't forget to check out our Wild Turkey Farms Facebook page and "like" us to get the most up to date info.

    

 

We hope that you'll support some of the chefs & businesses that support us & other local farmers.

300 East- Charlotte

Greeneman Farms @ 7th Street Market- Charlotte

Pure Pizza @ 7th St Market - Charlotte

Whiskey Warehouse- Charlotte

Fork- Cornelius

Napa On Providence - Charlotte

The Asbury at The Dunhill Hotel- Charlotte

The Wineshop at Foxcroft- Charlotte

Heirloom- Charlotte

Customshop- Charlotte

Little Spoon- Charlotte

Passion 8 Bistro- Charlotte

 

Thanks for your support, have a great weekend, and we'll see you at the market.

 

Lee, Domisty, Rosty, & Charlie

Wild Turkey Farms LLC

China Grove, NC