Have you ever wondered how your ancestors celebrated Thanksgiving without the local grocery store? Ever wondered if you could satisfy your families wish for the traditional dinner without the last minute mad dash for ingredients you forgot?

Well, you can.  How do I know? Well, I do it every year. With a little planning at garden time, the right animal friends, or neighbors with right animal friends you can too.

My menu planning started in March when  I purchased “Thanksgiving” as a day old poult with Thanksgiving in mind. He dressed out to a whopping 27 pounds!

two turkeys named Thanksgiving and Christmas

Thanksgiving and Christmas

The traditional cornbread dressing was made with corn that I grew in my garden which I ground to make cornmeal.  The celery, onion, and sage were also grown in my garden. One of my older hens provided the broth that I needed.


Old Hen and Rooster

Butter came from my lovely Jersey cow.  You can find a local neighbor who has cow share available for your dairy needs if you don’t have room for your own cow.

A cow and her calf


Zeke milking a cow

Zeke milking a cow

The rest of the menu looked like this:

Mashed Potatoes (dug in August) with butter and cream provided by my Jersey girl.
Green Beans I canned in July with onions and bacon (provided by “Miss Piggy” my sons summer project)
Corn on the Cob (froze in August) with butter and fresh chives.
Baked Sweet Potatoes with butter.
Kale Salad (still growing in the winter garden) with onions and garlic (stored from garden) dressed with a little warm bacon fat.
Last but not least, crust less Pumpkin Pie (Musqee de Provence) sweetened with honey from our hives, eggs from our chickens, cream from Miss Jersey and topped with whipped cream from Miss Jersey and sweetened with honey.

So, as you can see you can, with a little planning, create your special dinners from all home or locally produced products.  I have been doing it for years.
Now is the time to start planning for your next Thanksgiving Dinner.  You can be especially thankful for a dinner like this  because you know all the hard work and determination it took to get this wonderful and healthy meal on your table.

-Waynette Harness, University of Tennessee Master Gardener and Participant in Grow Appalachia