ORGANIC TURKEY AND OTHER THANKSGIVING SPECIALTIES By Judith Lerner (THIS ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN 2010.)  [For more articles by Judith Lerner, link here.] (Photos of Sean Stanton's turkeys at North Plain Farm.)

If you are cooking for Thanksgiving, you've already planned your dinner. Ordered your bird.


"Most people don't really begin to think about their Thanksgiving dinner until the weekend before," Dana Wagner told me as we spoke about organic turkeys last weekend. Wagner is the general manager of Hawthorne Valley Farm Store, the organic, biodynamic whole food grocery over the mountains in Harlemville, New York.

"As long as we have them available, we'll take an order up to that day, and I think that we will have them," she said.

The turkey. Today's Thanksgiving Days are all about the turkey — or not, if you are a vegetarian or vegan. There is no shortage of Butterballs around the country. And store-brand birds. But if you want a naturally-raised or a USDA certified organic free range turkey, here's how to get one here.

Jeff Schilling, fresh food manager at the Berkshire Co-op Market in Great Barrington, orders his birds early. Very early so he can get a lot of them and in the sizes he wants.

He said that there's a big shortage on turkey in general this year.

"We order our holiday turkeys very early in September," Jeff said, "and confirm our orders in October. I don't want to be the one caught short."

"So, what we have, we have, and when we run out, that's it!" he said. "It's first come, first served."

Aleisha Gibbons, owner of Berkshire Organics in Pittsfield, cut off organic turkey ordering for her customers on November 6. Those people had to be really organized and hope no guests cancel unexpectedly or unexpected guests appear out of the West.

Wild Oats Community Market in Williamstown had all of its organic turkeys preordered by about that time as well.

Everyone I spoke to for this story confirmed the scarcity of fresh, organic or naturally raised turkeys. It takes a year to farm a bird in a natural, sustainable manner. They have to eat nourishing, all-vegetable feed to grow large on their own without getting pumped up on artificially fattening steroids and other growth hormones.

There's always a wide selection of organic and natural birds at Mazzeo's Meats, Seafood and Wines in Guido's Fresh Marketplace.

"We always have extra birds in the store, but to get the size you want it's best to pre-order," said Rudy Mazzeo, Mazzeo's co-owner with his brother Mike Mazzeo.

They get their organic turkeys from D'Artagnan, a respected company with a farm in Pawling, New York and offices in Newark, New Jersey. D'Artagnan's birds are carefully raised on numerous small farms and given the D'Artagnan label.

Mazzeo's also carries D'Artagnan's free range heritage turkeys, its capons, fresh ducks and geese, game birds and Guinea hens; and Murray's turkey's, raised naturally in Lancaster Pennsylvania.

The turkeys the Mazzeos are really excited about are not certified organic. They are the all natural turkeys from Stonewood Farm, a family farm in Orwell, Vermont. The birds are raised on an all-vegetable diet without hormones, nitrates, animal products or preservatives.

They live in open-sided barns that let in sun and air and protect them from predators. They are slaughtered only for Thanksgiving and Christmas and are processed right on the farm.

A gold standard for "natural"

Paul Tawczynski of Taft Farms in Great Barrington, waxed poetic about Murray's natural turkeys. Taft and many other sellers carry Murrays, which is a group of family farms in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Paul said the turkeys are raised without antibiotics, preservatives, hormones or artificial ingredients and are fed a "totally vegetable diet."

Hawthorne Valley sells Grateful Harvest organic turkeys from California.

"Grateful Harvest supports all California farms," Dana Wagner said. "The turkeys are grown on small farms all over the state and are shipped [live] to Grateful Harvest who takes care of [processes] them and they ship them out."

Emmy and Ryan Davis of Berkshire Green Grocer in Lee still have free range organic turkeys from Eberly Farm, a family farm in Wichita, Kansas. So does the Frank Lewis family at The Store at Five Corners and Green River Farms, and Maggie Sadoway and Ruth Wheeler at Clearwater Natural Foods in Lenox.

The most interesting organic turkeys are those that are raised right here in Berkshire County: Sean Stanton has Bourbon Red and Black Spanish Turkeys on his North Plain Farm in Great Barrington.

"I do have organic turkeys although most of them are sold," Sean said. "But they're not just organic, they're heritage breed and organic."

Stanton expected he would still have a couple of dozen 6 to 15 pound turkeys left this week.

Dominic Palumbo raises free range, organic Narragansett turkeys, that look like a fat version of the native wild turkey, on his Moon in the Pond Farm in Sheffield; and Khaki Campbell ducks and Pilgrim geese. They are all ready to be sold for Thanksgiving.

Even Stop and Shop is carrying organic and natural turkeys, most of them frozen. They have Bell and Evans organic turkeys and their own store brand, Nature's Promise, all natural turkeys. Ray Terkin, meat department manager at the Dan Fox Drive store in Pittsfield, said he always has frozen ducks and geese and Empire kosher hen turkeys but now he will have Empire Toms as well and fresh ducks and geese, capons and stewing fowl. He said he would try to get pretty much anything a customer wanted to order like fois gras or sweetbreads. Just ask him.

An unnamed meat department manager at one of the Price Chopper supermarkets said, "All turkeys are natural — no antibiotics, no growth hormone,  no preservatives. The only difference between a Shady Brook and a Plainville turkey is that a Plainville turkey is a vegetarian and Shady Brook is not."

Andy Pyenson, currently sole owner of Otis Poultry Farm in Otis, voiced the same sentiment. The Pyenson family has been in the poultry and egg business since 1904 but they no longer raise birds.

"No one puts hormones or antibiotics in turkeys anymore," Andy said. He also said, "No one raises turkeys locally anymore."

Aleisha Gibbons, the owner and central force of Berkshire Organics, deals daily with exactly what local, natural and organic are. She was disheartened at "all natural" claims made by some large, factory poultry farm purveyors. She explained that natural is a vague and variable quality when applied to food. And it is difficult to substantiate without a trip to see how a farm actually runs.

"I do not generally carry products labeled natural. We carry Stonewood Farm turkeys because we know they are a small farm that really does raise their birds the way they say," Aleisha said.

She also said that she does not know of any USDA ban on the use of antibiotics, hormones or preservatives in poultry.

In the end, if no chemicals, no hormones, antibiotic-free, fresh, unpreserved food is what you want, ask your butcher exactly where the turkey you are interested in comes from. Ask what it was fed. How it was raised and slaughtered, cleaned, processed and brought to you. There are so many variables I cannot cover all of them here.

Once you have your organic turkey, how you gonna cook it?

Chef Brian Alberg brines his turkeys at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. Peter Platt, owner and chef at The Old Inn on the Green in New Marlborough, and Dan Smith, owner and chef of John Andrews Restaurant in South Egremont, do not.

"There really isn't any difference," Alberg says. "It's just a matter of size and whether they are frozen or fresh."

Platt says many things affect the flavor of the finished bird including how it was handled after it was killed, whether it was frozen or chilled down to near frozen or if it is a truly fresh bird. He roasts his turkeys with a butter-drenched cloth over the breast.

"I roast them at a high temperature" says Dan Smith. "They're crispy and they cook more quickly. I start at 455, 450 degrees. Cook it at that for a while and then turn it down to about 350, 325 degrees; but now, I sometimes just leave them [at 450 degrees]. I do put butter on them and herbs."

When you finally cook the turkey for which you will be thankful next week, John Andrews manager Max Magen said,"They do not cook any differently, they just taste better."

But what's Thanksgiving without all the fixins? And the pies? The pies and the holiday cakes and confections and special nogs and drinks and wines?

A note on the drinks:

High Lawn Farm's seasonal egg nog is now in the stores in time for Thanksgiving.

Wayne Eline makes really seasonal sounding white wines at his Les Trois Emmes Winery down in New Marlborough: Stingy Jack's pumpkin wine and Wizard's Cranberry wine. Eline says while they are not exactly sweet, they are not exactly dry, either.

Odd as blueberry wine may sound, that made by the Chester Hill Winery in Chester, is very fine with many of them quite dry and full bodied. These wines are reds.

Berkshire County has many wonderful local caterers and bakers with which to celebrate the Thanksgiving meal. I have listed a number of them and their Thanksgiving specials. Of course, their stock is well beyond my lists.

As a final autumn abundance, Matt Rubiner says, "We'll be roasting chestnuts in front of the store [Rubiner's Cheesemonger on Main Street] to give a little aroma to Great Barrington."


A-FRAME BAKERY     1194 Cold Spring Road (@ intersection of Route 7 & Taconic Trail) Williamstown; Sharon Sutter baker/owner; (413) 458-3600; aframebakery@verizon.net; pre-order pies, tarts, breads and savories including bittersweet chocolate tart, pear and almond tart, corn and chive Madelines, cranberry Madelines; order by Monday, Nov. 22.

BABY CAKES     Williamstown; Helene Armet and Judy Turbin baker owners; (413) 458-9930/Turbin 8778/Armet;BabyCakes2468@gmail.com; fall collection of 6-inch baby cakes including apple, pumpkin, cocoa spice and maple walnut; will be at Berkshire Grown Holiday Market in Williamstown with cakes and walk-away pudding-cake parfaits; order by Tuesday, Nov. 23, or shop at Williamstown Holiday Market Saturday, Nov. 20.

BARB'S BAKED GOODS     46 Main Street, Sheffield; Barbara Davidson; (413) 229-8091;SheffBarbara@yahoo.com; fresh fruit pies with very crispy undercrusts including lemon meringue and from-scratch no meat mincemeat, tea breads, cheesecakes including New York-style crustless pumpkin, fruitcakes, rugalach, fudge, platters, baskets and tins; can order right up to Thanksgiving.

BARRINGTON BITES     31 Railroad Street (at back of The Chef's Shop), Great Barrington; Wendy Weinberg; (413) 528-0660; www.barringtonbites.com; miniature cupcakes in autumn flavors: pumpkin, caramel-apple, pecan pie; order by Monday, Nov. 22 for pick-up on Wednesday.

BARTLETT'S ORCHARD     575 Swamp Road, Richmond; Cindy Bartlett; (413) 698-2559;www.bartlettsorchard.com; many flavors of Gardner fresh fruit pies including strawberry-rhubard, Dutch apple and very berrry; cider donuts, apple muffins and homemade fudge, fresh preservative-free cider; order by Tuesday, Nov. 23.

BERKSHIRE MOUNTAIN BAKERY     367 Park Street/Route 183, Great Barrington (just south of Housatonic); Richard Bourdon baker/owner; (413) 274-3412; www.berkshiremountainbakery.com; all organic, sourdough breads; special for Thankgiving are stollen filled with rum-soaked fruits and almond paste, cinnamon-apple coffee cake, pannetone, chocolate bread and ciabatta rolls, cherry-pecan bread, almond, chocolate and cinnamon croissants; order or shop in bakery or at either Berkshire Grown Holiday Market Saturday, Nov. 20.

CAKEWALK BAKERY AND CAFE     56 Main Street, Lee; Brian Smith baker/owner; (413) 243-2806;www.cakewalkbakery.com; seasonal pies, tarts, cheesecake, tea breads and cakes including a flourless chocolate cake and a spice cake with spiced cream cheese frosting; order by Sunday, Nov. 21.

CHEESECAKE CHARLIE'S     Sophie and Ralph Petillo owners and chefs; (413) 637-2411; cheesecakes including pumpkin, cakes including carrot, desserts and hors d'oeuvres made with all natural and 90-percent-local products; order by Saturday, Nov. 20.

CHOCOLATE SPRINGS     56 Pittsfield Road #3 (at the Lenox Country Shops) Lenox; Joshua Needleman chocolatier/owner; (413) 637-9820; little chocolate turkeys and pumpkin cheesecake; order by Sunday, Nov. 21 to assure availability.

GOULD FARM HARVEST BARN BAKERY & CAFE     100 Gould Road off Route 23, Monterey; CJ Walton baker/manager; (413)644-9718 www.gouldfarm.org; butter/cream cheese crust pies and tarts made from locally harvested fruits as well as lemon cream, chocolate cream and banana cream; cheesecakes including banana with a chocolate ganache coating and other baked goods; order by Friday, Nov. 19.

JAESCHKE'S     740 Crane Ave., Pittsfield' Rhetta Jaeschke owner/baker; (413) 443-7180 Pittsfield; (413) 743-3896 Adams; fresh from scratch fruit pies; pears, apples, cider, peeled butternut squash and peeled Florida Mountain turnips; order by Sunday, Nov. 21.


BIG Y WORLD CLASS MARKET     www.bigy.com; (413) 528-1314/447-7301/663-6549; Miller's Poultry Farm all natural turkey from a local farm in Avon, Connecticut; store brand Full Circle all natural frozen turkey,  Shady Brook all natural hen turkey, frozen goose, frozen duck; ordering is best.

BURGNER'S FARM MARKET     813 Dalton Division Rd. at corner of Williams St., Pittsfield; Tom Burgner proprietor; (413) 445-4704; www.shopsatburgnersfarm.com; fresh, free range all natural birds from North Carolina available uncooked or roasted with Burgner's own gravy, stuffed or not, all the fixings made at Burgner's, use and sell some local produce, local apples and pumpkin in their from-scratch at Burgner's pies; order by Saturday, Nov. 20 although the store will be open on Thanksgiving Day.

GUIDO'S FRESH MARKETPLACE: BERGER'S SPECIALTY FOODS      1020 South St., Pittsfield; John Berger and Tom Berger; (413) 442-1898; bergersspecialtyfoods@hotmail.com; www.guidosfreshmarketplace.com; roasted free-range turkey, fixings from butternut bisque to mushroom or dried fruit bread stuffing, butternut squash risotto to wild rice pilaf with cranberries and corn to pies including peach praline; order by Friday, Nov. 19 or first come first served.

GUIDO'S FRESH MARKETPLACE: THE MARKETPLACE KITCHEN         760 South Main St., Great Barrington/ 18 Elm Court, Sheffield; David Renner and Kevin Schmitz owners; (413) 528-5775/ (413) 248-5040x 1;www.themarketplacekitchen.com; both uncooked and roasted all natural turkeys, soups, sides such as roasted cauliflower or caramelized carrots with orange, pies, tarts, pumpkin cheesecake and ginger cake with cream cheese frosting; order by Thursday, Nov. 18.

OTIS POULTRY FARM     1570 North Main Road, Route 8, Otis; Andy Pyenson owner; (413) 269-4438 or (800) 286-2690; www.otispoultryfarm.com; natural turkeys and capons, frozen ducks, fresh ducks and geese available.

PRICE CHOPPER     Great Barrington (413) 528-8415/ Lee (413) 243-2238/ Lenox (413) 443-5449/ North Adams (413) 663-9415/ Pittsfield (413) 442-7696; www.pricechopper.com; all natural Plainville turkeys; no need to order; buy in store.

SOMA CATERING     2089 State Road, Richmond; Loretta Tenuda manager, Tom Tenuda chef; (413) 698-3400/store, (413) 854-1720/Loretta; www.somacatering.com/thanksgivingdaymenu; totally from scratch Thanksgiving menu featuring an all natural herb brined turkey uncooked or roasted, starters such as mini lobster rolls, sides like honey-lavender glazed carrots, stuffing, gravy, condiments like apple and pumpkin butters and desserts using local produce including butter crust pies such as Bartlett apple pie, all natural turkeys in herb brine; order by Thursday, Nov. 18 to guarantee availability but food is always in the store and they will be there through Thanksgiving morning.

TAFT FARMS     119 Park St. Route 183 (corner of Division St.), Great Barrington; Dan Tawczynski, Paul Tawczynski and family; (413) 528-1515/ (800) 528-1015; www.taftfarms.com; all natural Murray's turkeys, casserole sides such as corn souffle or sweet potato-pecan, gravy and condiments, and pies.


BERKSHIRE CO-OP MARKET     42 Bridge St., Great Barrington; Jeff Schilling fresh foods manager; (413) 528-9697; www.berkshire.coop; Grateful Harvest organic turkeys, Stonewood Farm natural no-hormone-antibiotics turkeys; Grateful Harvest natural turkeys, all the fixings prepared in-house, organic fruit pies with both butter or vegan organic crusts in many flavors including walnut-almond apple crumb and pumpkin in both usual and vegan versions, co-op made wheat free dips and appetizers such as feta and roasted red pepper or gorgonzola cheeseball, seasonal, local fresh and smoked cheeses, organic, fair-trade Thanksgiving chocolates, special food needs catered to such as gluten and wheat free, vegan, kosher, fois gras, special pates and caviar can be ordered; no order cutoff date, first com first served, items should be ordered to assure availability.

BERKSHIRE ORGANICS     813 Dalton Division Road (corner of Williams St.), Pittsfield; Aleisha Gibbons owner; (413) 442-0888; www.berkshireorganics.com; the organic turkeys have all been ordered but turkey alternatives such as tofurky are available, organic produce for Thanksgiving cooking and new homemade Berkshire Organics pies and baked goods using local apples, pumpkin and pecan; orders must be placed by Friday, Nov. 19 to assure availability or shop in store; orders delivered or pick up in store or shop in store.

BERKSHIRES GREEN GROCER     42 Park St #2, Lee; Ryan and Emmy Davis owners; (413) 243-1775;www.berkshiregreengrocer.com; Eberly Farm organic free range turkeys, also turkey alternatives such as tofuky, organic local produce, pies and other baked goods from small, local bakers; order by Saturday, Nov. 20 to assure availability or shop in store.

CHAIWALLA TEA ROOM     1 Main St/ Routes 41 and 44, Salisbury, CT; (860) 435-9758; Mary O'Brien chef/owner; organic turkeys and sides of choice, desserts including pies, cakes, most ingredients organic and local; order by Sunday, Nov. 21.

CLEARWATER NATURAL FOODS     11 Housatonic St. #1, Lenox; Maggie Sadoway and Ruth Wheeler owners; (413) 637-2721; www.clearwaternaturalfoods.com; Grateful Harvest organic and Shelton organic turkeys, Murray's natural and Shelton natural turkeys, Grateful Harvest natural turkeys, also vegan turkey alternatives, frozen gluten-free piecrusts; order turkeys by Sunday, Nov. 21.

DOTTIE'S COFFEE LOUNGE     444 North St., Pittsfield; Jessica Rufo owner, Matt Lamb chef; (917) 817-8863;www.dottiescoffeelounge.com; ale brined and basted roasted local organic or conventional turkeys with all organic, mostly local sides including Brussels sprouts with pancetta in cream sauce or mashed sweet potatoes and parsnips, complete menu or individual dishes, desserts available additionally, the Coffee Lounge itself can be booked as a whole for a private Thanksgfiving dinner; order by Friday, Nov. 19, delivery available.

GUIDO'S FRESH MARKETPLACE: MAZZEO'S MEATS     1020 South St., Pittsfield, Mike Mazzeo co-owner of Mazzeo's Meat, Seafood and Wine, (413) 442-2222; 760 S. Main St. Route 7, Great Barrington, Rudy Mazzeo co-owner of Mazzeo's Meat, Seafood and Wine, (413) 528-4488; www.guidosfreshmarketplace.com; organic turkeys from D'Artagnan in New York state, fresh natural turkeys from Murray's in Pennsylvania, also D'Artagnan heritage breed turkeys, D'Artagnan fesh ducks, D'Artagnan fresh geese, capons, game birds, D'Artagnan Guinea hens, pheasants, poussin, squab, quail, no-water-added low salt kurobuta hams from Berkshire [the breed name] pork; order up to Thanksgiving but order soon.

HAWTHORNE VALLEY FARM STORE     327 Route 21C, Harlemville, New York; Dana Wagner general manager; (518) 672-7500x 2; www.hawthornevalleyfarm.org; Grateful Harvest certified organic turkeys from small farms all over California, biodynamic, organic produce including Brussels sprouts on the stalk, fresh chestnuts from Italy and Cape Cod cranberries, organic stuffing cube mix of four of the farm's own yeast and sourdough breads, pies; order as long as the turkeys last.

MOON IN THE POND FARM     816 Barnum Road, Sheffield; Dominic Palumbo; (413) 229-3092;www.mooninthepond.com; organic Narragansett turkeys raised on organic feed from a farm in Duchess County, New York, organic Khaki Campbell ducks and Pilgrim geese, flower-infused honey.

NORTH PLAIN FARM     295 North Plain Road, Great Barrington; Sean Stanton farmer; (413) 429-6598;www.northplainfarm.com; organic Bourbon Red and Black Spanish heritage breed turkeys from 6 to 15 pounds.

STOP & SHOP     Dan Fox Drive, Pittsfield, (413) 442-7600x 5; Merrill Road, Pittsfield, (413) 443-5795; State Road Route 2, North Adams, (413) 664-8100; Bell and Evans frozen organic turkeys, Nature's Promise all natural frozen turkeys, ducks, geese, capons, fowl (soup/stewing hen), frozen Empire kosher hen and Tom turkeys, can order variety meats such as lungs, sweetbreads and tongue; no deadline but preordering is best.

WILD OATS COMMUNITY MARKET     320 Main St., Williamstown; (413) 458-8060;preparedfoods@wildoats.coop; www.wildoats.coop; organic turkeys, naturally raised, free range local turkeys from Misty Knoll Farm in New Haven, Vermont, everything but the turkey meal for 5 to 8 diners includes four sides, gravy, cranberries, rolls, vegan variations, fully cooked lasagna meat or vegetarian, Wild Oats pies, cookies and scones; order turkey as soon as possible or it is first come first served; order everything, but the turkey may be ordered through Wednesday, Nov. 17; Everything But the Turkey meal may be ordered through Sunday, Nov. 21; after that the dishes may be ordered individually.


BERKSHIRE GROWN HOLIDAY FARMER'S MARKETS     Searles school gymnasium, Bridge St., Great Barrington, Saturday, Nov. 20 9am to 1pm; Williams College Towne Field House, Latham St., Williamstown, Saturday, Nov. 20 10am to 2pm; www.berkshiregrown.org; at least 33 farmers and other food and farm products purveyors at the Great Barrington market and at least 38 at the Williamstown market selling ingredients needed for a Thanksgiving dinner including fruits and vegetables, honey and maple syrup, cheese, other dairy and eggs, baked goods and confections, prepared foods, flowers, body-care products, traditional crafts, books.

BERKSHIRE VEGAN     Yukiko Sato; (413) 464-4772; berkshirevegan@gmail.com; organic vegan menu of Thanksgiving Wellington, vegan sides, pumpkin pie and cranberry 'cheesecake'; call for details; order by Monday, Nov. 22 for delivery in Pittsfield and surrounding towns by Wednesday, Nov. 24.

BIZALION'S     684 Main St./ Route 7 #3, Great Barrington; Francois and Helen Bizalion; (413) 644-9988;bizalion@bizalions.com; www.bizalions.com; traditional festive French winter holiday fare including cassoulet, meat and cheese fondues, stuffed quail, roast lamb and soups; order by Sunday, Nov. 21.

HIGH LAWN FARM     www.highlawnfarm.com; (413) 243-0672; holiday egg nog now in stores.

LES TROIS EMME WINERY     8 Knight Road, New Marlborough; Wayne Eline winemaker owner; (413) 528-1015; Stingy Jack Pumpkin wine and Wizard's Cranberry wine, fruity white wines perfect for the season, dry wines also available; at stores around the county.

RUBINER'S CHEESEMONGERS     264 Main St, Great Barrington; Matthew Rubiner owner/cheesemonger; (413) 528-0488; roasting chestnuts in front of the store.

WHITNEY'S FARM MARKET     1775 South State Road, Route 8, Cheshire; Eric Whitney owner; (413) 442-4749;www.whitneysfarm.com.

OTIS POULTRY FARM     1570 North Main Road, Otis; Andy Pyenson owner; (413) 269-4438; turkeys, homemade fixings such as Florida Mountain turnips and pies baked to order; the store is well-stocked but it is always best to order.


JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE BERKSHIRES     at Congregation Knesset Israel, 16 Colt Road, Pittsfield; (413) 442-2200); senior Thanksgiving lunch; 12pm Thursday, Nov. 18; over 60/$2 suggested donation; under 60/$6 suggested donation; call for reservation by 9am day of lunch.

ST. STEPHEN'S TABLE     67 East St. at Allen St., Pittsfield; (413) 448-8276) free walk-in Thanksgiving Dinner; 5:15pm; Thursday, Nov. 18.

NORTH COUNTY UNITED WAY/ST. JOHN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF NORTH ADAMS     (413) 664-9656; call between 11:30am & 5:30pm by Friday, Nov. 19 to reserve a Thanksgiving meal delivered by volunteers. Leave a message. Someone will return the call.

MEALS ON WHEELS     Thanksgiving lunch by reservation; Friday, Nov. 19 at congregate meal sites around the county in Adams, Becket, Cheshire, Dalton, Great Barrington, Hinsdale, Lanesborough, Lee, Lenox, North Adams, Pittsfield, Providence Court Pittsfield, Stockbridge and Williamstown; times vary; $2 suggested donation; for meal site information and for phone numbers to call to make reservations, checkhttp://www.esbci.org/Services/MealsOnWheels/MOWsites.html

SALVATION ARMY NORTH ADAMS 393 River Street North Adams; (413) 663-7987; free walk-in community Thanksgiving dinner; 2pm to 4pm Saturday, Nov. 20; prepared by chef Andreas Karampastos and his family, once owners of the Taconic Restaurant in Williamstown.

FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF DALTON     is hosting a free walk-in community Thanksgiving dinner; (413) 684-0521; 5pm Saturday, Nov. 20.

SALVATION ARMY     www.salvationarmy.org 300 West St., Pittsfield; (413) 442-0624; free walk-in Thanksgiving Dinner; Sunday, Nov. 21; Captain Scott Peabody and his wife Captain Karen Peabody and people from the church will make a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

NORTHERN BERKSHIRE FOOD PROJECT CHEF'S DINNER/ COMMUNITY THANKSGIVING     free Thanksgiving Dinner from 5:30pm to 8:30pm on Monday Nov. 22; at the First Congregational Church, 18 Main Street, North Adams; presented by chefs Chris Bonnivier of Gala Restaurant in Williamstown, Sandy Smith of Gramercy Bistro in North Adams, Greg Roach of Wild Oats Community Market in Williamstown, Lisa Harvey of Green River Farms Catering in Williamstown, Tim Manthei of the Williams Inn in Williamstown. "Donations are very welcome and much needed," said chef Bonnivier who "originally came up with the idea to add all the chefs to the mix" of Valerie Schwartz's longtime Northern Berkshire Food Project Thanksgiving Dinner in order to "get a bigger dra and help create the awareness," he said. "Reservations are not necessary," Bonnivier said. "We want everyone to come and create a togetherness. That's the reason for having all the chefs from popular local eateries – to get others to come out to this event. Where are you goiung to get a free meal from Gramercy Bistro or Williams Inn? They get it here. They can sit and break bread with everyone together and see what is happening. [They can become] aware that right here in their back yard is where [need] starts, noot 13,000 miles away in some other country. Valerie said we definitely made a difference. The year before they only did about 175 [dinners]. Last year, which was the first year [the chefs cooked the dinner] we did 225. We are hoping for more this year as well." [see audio/slideshow with Valerie Schwartz and Chris Bonnivier on Berkshire Grown's Share the Bounty initiative.]

BERKSHIRE SOUTH COMMUNITY CENTER     25 Crissey Road, Great Barrington; (413) 528-2810; free community Thanksgiving Dinner, but donations are accepted; by reservation; Tuesday, Nov. 23; three seatings – 4pm, 5pm and 6pm.

THE CHRISTIAN CENTER     393 Robbins Avenue at Linden Street; (413) 443-2828; free walk-in Thanksgiving Dinner; 12pm to 1pm Thursday, Nov. 25; doors open at 11:30; open until 2pm; meals delivered to elderly and shut-in, hopefully by 12pm; call any dal up to Thanksgiving day at 12pm to get a meal delivered.

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF LEE     25 Park Place (in park behind town hall); (413) 243-1033/1717; free walkk-in Thanksgiving Dinner 12pm Thursday, Nov. 25.; donations are appreciated but no one has to pay; "We did it last year and it was very successful," The Rev. Bill Neil said.

BERKSHIRE VEGETARIAN NETWORK VEGETARIAN LIVING THANKSGIVING     at United Methodis Church of Lenox; 6 Holmes Road; vegetarian potluck 1pm Thursday, Nov. 25; $6/person for adults; $3/person for children; reservations required; call Melissa Campbell (413) 684-0176; mcampbell25@nycap.rr.com; Each person is to bring a dish that will serve 10, clearly marked vegetarian or vegan. Vegan dishes, free of all animal products, are preferable. A recipe card with ingredients is to be attached to each dish. Coffee and hot and cold water will be provided. Guests/attendees are asked to bring their own place settings and utensils. After dinner, guests may share a poem, short story or impromptu monent which expresses why they are thannkful. There will be a progrram featuring vegetarian speaker Frank L. Hoffman, co-founder wit his wife, Mary, of the Frank & Mary Hoffman Foundation.

GUTHRIE CENTER THANKSIVING DINNER     4 Van Deusenville Road, Great Barrington; (413) 528-1955; free Thanksgiving Dinner; 1pm Thursday, Nov. 25, by reservation; hosted and catered by Samuel's Deli and the Guthrie Center; call if you need transportation arrangements.