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Start Your Business Success Stories

Four Generations in the Turkey Business and Still Gobbling

Diestel Family Turkey Ranch Credit: Diestel Family Turkey Ranch

The Diestel Family Turkey Ranch is one of the few family-owned turkey grower-processors in the U.S. We are a family of fourth generation turkey farmers, committed to tradition and the health of our turkeys, and driven by innovation in agriculture and product excellence.

My great-great-uncle, Ernest Bottini, set our story in motion when he emigrated from Western Europe to Sonora, Calif., and purchased 400 acres to start a turkey ranch. My father, Tim, grew up working with turkeys alongside him and his father Jack, who officially founded the Diestel ranch in 1949. Passionate about carrying on the family's tradition, my parents purchased the farm in the '80s and became food change makers of their time.

My mother, Joan, who graduated from University of California, Davis, and became a registered dietitian, was determined to make high-quality, farm-to-plate food more accessible. My father helped define new industry standards for animal raising practices for antibiotic-free and organic poultry. By laying the company's groundwork when the natural foods industry was just taking off, they created a successful brand that's not only known for its delicious turkeys, but recognized as a leader in sustainable agriculture.

While most producers in our industry are dedicated to getting pounds to market as quickly as possible, our approach is just the opposite. We have no desire to grow all the turkeys in the world – we just want to grow the best. Diestel farmers walk the turkeys every day and pay close attention to their health, eliminating the need for antibiotics. The birds are fed a wholesome vegetarian diet of grains milled and mixed daily on the ranch. In addition, our GAP-rated turkeys are slow grown in a natural environment with nearly two times as much space as conventional birds, allowing them to develop taste and texture in their own time.

When my brothers, Jason and Garrett, and I were growing up, my parents handled everything on the farm from breeding, feeding and processing, all the way up to distribution. We were also involved in the day-to-day operations and grew a strong appreciation for thoughtfully raising animals from birth to maturity. Today, Diestel is run by the fourth Generation: Jason, Garrett, Jared (my husband), and myself, and we turn to Tim and Joan simply for their support and guidance.

I handle the marketing, retail and consumer side of things, while Jason manages the agriculture aspect. Our parents never pressured us to get into the family business but always embraced our interest in helping to shape it. Jason, for example, has redefined our farming practices with the implementation of multi-species grazing and a re-claimed water and on-site commercial composting program. In addition, Garrett has advanced Diestel's digital presence with the launch of an online store that makes Diestel's turkeys available to consumers across the country.

Just as the Diestel Family Turkey Ranch has evolved, so have our family and turkey offerings. My husband is now our president, and we're proud parents of a beautiful baby girl, Aurelia. Though we're no longer a tiny operation, a humble and driven family is at our core.

We still take great pride in providing the Thanksgiving centerpiece to families across the country, but now we also produce a wide variety of value-added, year-round products. From Diestel's Non-GMO Project Verified turkey deli slices to our organic charcuterie meats, ground turkey and turkey burgers, we deliver quality nutrition, delicious taste and a product that people can feel proud of – from our farm to your table.

About the author: Heidi Diestel is a fourth-generation farmer at Diestel Family Turkey Ranch. Explore www.diestelturkey.com to learn more about us and stay in touch on social by following @DiestelTurkey.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Sammi Caramela.