Our Humble Story
The old farmhouse — lived in until a dozen years ago — now serves as Blake’s “corporate” offices. It’s just one reminder of the enduring legacy of Clara Blake, her son, Roy, and the values they brought to their work.
It must have been tough for a 25-acre farm in Concord, New Hampshire, to make a go of it during those lean years following the farm’s first season in 1929. But Clara Blake was made of tough stock. And tender, too, as it turns out.
After World War II, Clara’s son, Roy, made fresh-dressed turkeys the sole focus of the business and set a course for the future. Roy was a purist and a perfectionist. He won countless awards for raising the finest free-range, all-natural turkeys in the land (though those terms weren’t yet commonly used), and a Blake’s turkey became standard holiday fare for thousands of New England families. In many households, a trip to Blake’s to pick up a turkey became a family holiday tradition.
In the early 1950s Roy’s son, Charlie, got his first taste of life as a turkey farmer. While other ten-year-olds were getting fishing rods or BB guns for their birthdays, Charlie got 100 two-day-old turkey poults from his dad. He took great pride in his flock, tending to it around the clock. Farming was in his blood — he couldn’t have gotten a better present.
Following high school, Charlie attended the Thompson School of Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire, and got his degree in 1966. After graduating, he immediately became immersed in all aspects of managing the farm. He took over the operation four years later.
One day in the spring of 1970, Charlie found himself with some extra turkey meat in the farm’s kitchen and decided to experiment with his grandmother’s recipe for turkey pot pie. He cut the vegetables by hand, made the gravy and crust from scratch, and baked a dozen pies in the oven. He loaded them in the back of his ’67 Chevy van, drove to St. John’s Church on Main Street in Concord, and began selling turkey pot pies out of the back of the van. While his five-year-old daughter, Amy, roller-skated around a nearby parking lot, Charlie sold one pie, then another, and another. Within 20 minutes he sold out. And he realized he was on to something.
Four decades later, Charlie and his wife, Sally, were distributing turkey and chicken pot pies throughout New England. They’d built a new production facility at the farm to keep up with demand, but otherwise very little had changed, because very little needed changing. They were still using Clara’s recipes, still cutting vegetables by hand and making gravy from scratch. The hand-pulled chicken and turkey were as tender as ever. Theirs was a thrifty, quintessential New England mom-and-pop business operating with a simple goal: Put healthy meals on the table for as many folks as possible.
The company has stayed true to those roots while continuing to branch out.
In 2006, when Amy and Chris joined the business, their girls Blake and Lucy were just three years old, and the young parents were thinking a lot about the food they were putting on the table. They were learning about the benefits of organic food, knew there must have been a lot of young families out there like theirs, and saw an opportunity for Blake’s. They saw other opportunities in the heirloom recipe cards that Clara had handed down with the farm: hearty recipes for shepherd’s pie, for macaroni and cheese, macaroni and beef. With each new addition to the Blake’s line of products, we asked ourselves one question: “If Clara were to come back today, would she approve of what we’re doing?”
All these years later, Blake’s is still using the best natural and organic ingredients. We’re still making all our meals by hand and making our own gravy from scratch. There’s simply no other way to make a Blake’s meal. We think Clara would approve.