Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Ron, Stuart and Ryan Joyce and Colton Curtis with Joyce Farms and Curtis Farms are a few of those farmers.
The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!
In 1962, Alvin Joyce started Joyce Farms as a poultry supplier to local mom-and-pop grocery stores. In the 1970’s, Ron Joyce, Alvin’s son, joined the company and shifted its focus to all-natural raising methods and heritage-breed proteins.
In the early 2000’s, Ron traveled to France where he found a French breed of chicken, which Joyce Farms call the Poulet Rouge® and it has become one of their most popular and well-known items among chefs and home cooks. This breed of chicken, part of the French Label Rouge program, is known for its superior culinary qualities, light to dark red coloring, naked neck and slow growth process, taking twelve weeks to mature to market size.
Currently a third generation family business, run by Ron Joyce and his sons Ryan and Stuart, Joyce Farms processes chickens weekly and is well-known for both their Heritage brand and Naked brands of meat and poultry. Heritage chickens are free-range and Naked chickens are free-roaming but have no outdoor access.
“Working with family on a daily basis is incredibly supportive because we are all working toward the same mission,” Ron said, “I fully trust them.”
While the family processes the birds and markets the products, they work with various farmers across the state to ensure the best quality.
Joyce Farms’ facility in Winston-Salem is a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected poultry processing plant, and one of the farmers that they work
with to raise their birds to the highest standard is Colton Curtis of Curtis Farms. “We take immense pride in the way we care for our birds,” Stuart said, “we follow a strict animal welfare program and require all of the farmers we contract with to do the same.”
A typical day for Curtis starts around 8 a.m. in the barn, making sure feed and other equipment is functioning properly. The barns are checked for safety, cleanliness and assurance that no threats are present to the animals. “The hardest part is the 24 hours a day, seven days a week aspect of it,” Curtis says, “you are always on call because, although you go home at the end of the day, the chickens do not.” He really enjoys working with the chickens, watching them grow and run around on a daily basis. Once the chickens reach market size, they are sent to Joyce Farms for processing.
In 2011, Joyce Farms expanded beyond chicken to include Heritage Aberdeen Angus Beef, Heritage Gloucestershire Old Spot Pork Heritage Bison, Naked Duck and Naked Rabbit. They proudly raise their Heritage animals on farms practicing Regenerative Agriculture. “We wanted to focus on old heritage meat and continue growing toward a reputation of superior quality,” Ron said.
Joyce Farms products can be found in a variety of retail stores such as Whole Foods Market and many specialty grocery stores and butcher shops. In addition, they work with a variety of chefs and high-end restaurants around the state like A Noble Grille, Milner’s American Southern, Meridian Restaurant and Ashley Christensen’s restaurants. “It is a true honor to hear some of the best chefs in the world tell you that your products are the best in the world,” Stuart said. He enjoys Naked Chicken with a little butter and rosemary while Curtis enjoys Poulet Rouge legs on the grill.
Looking toward the future, both farmer and processor want to maintain superior quality and drive innovation. “Quality and flavor are our number one priorities,” both Curtis and Stuart said, “those principles will drive growth and innovation forward in the future.” When they are not working on the farm, you can find these men jamming out to Alan Jackson and The Rolling Stones.