My Locally Grown Thanksgiving

For this year’s Thanksgiving feast, I sourced all the ingredients from my home state of Pennsylvania.

by Jessica Walliser

My Locally Grown Thanksgiving - Photo by Jessica Walliser (

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you have the opportunity to sit down, relax and celebrate the holiday with friends and family. Here at our house, we’re hosting a dinner for seven, quite a few less than last year, but still enough to keep the conversation lively and the house full of laughter.

While we always enjoy having several locally grown items on the Thanksgiving menu, this year we decided to go all the way and source all the major ingredients from small-scale, local farmers. We started our adventure last weekend, when my son and I spent several hours at the farmers’ market and a local orchard gathering all the ingredients we’ll need for today’s meal.

My Locally Grown Thanksgiving - Photo by Lynne Geltson ( 

Our 17-pound heritage-breed turkey came from my friend Lynne Gelston at Dream Thyme Farm in Mercer County, Pa. Lynne’s handmade goat’s milk soap is the only soap that touches our bodies, and we enjoy one of her family’s free-range roasting chickens a few times a month. When my son and I picked up the turkey, we also left with some of Farmer Lynne’s homegrown celery, an essential ingredient for my Pennsylvania Dutch potato filling recipe.

My son goes to school with the children of Jeremy and Rachael Gray of Gray Farms in Butler, Pa. They sell baskets of mushrooms at my local farmers’ market, though for Thanksgiving I chose Kennebec potatoes and Farmer Gray’s gigantic sweet potatoes instead of portabellas and criminis. I also couldn’t stop myself from picking up some baby arugula greens while I was there.

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The Kabocha squash, Chinese red meat radish, carrots and Pennsylvania Sweet onions came from Clarion River Organics, a 10-farm cooperative from Sligo, Pa. I cannot wait to share the crispy sweet radishes in our salad and roast the squash for my favorite squash pie recipe. The onions and carrots, of course, will be used in the potato filling.

This year, I’ll be making a side dish of roasted Brussels sprouts. I usually do garden peas instead, but when I saw this gorgeous stalk of sprouts at Soergel’s Orchards in Wexford, Pa., I couldn’t resist and changed the menu. I plan to boil them for just a few minutes before halving the sprouts, coating them with olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, turmeric and whole mustard seeds, and roasting them in the oven.

My Locally Grown Thanksgiving - Photo by Jessica Walliser (

Pie baking is probably my favorite part of Thanksgiving. I’ve already used the apples from Dawson’s Orchards in Enon Valley, Pa., to make the two pies shown here. And the pumpkin for the pumpkin pie was grown right in my very own backyard!

And lastly, once all the cooking and eating is finished, you’ll find me sitting by the fire with a big glass of white wine from Clover Hill, the winery right next door to my parents’ home in Robesonia, Pa.

Here’s to a beautiful, locally grown Thanksgiving! Cheers!

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