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Turkey Traditions

Last week, while at an anniversary party for Revere Bank, not really knowing many people, I asked a couple if I could share a table with them. When I noticed their last name was Iager I had to ask if they were the Iagers that own Maple Lawn Turkey Farm? They were! I excitedly shared with them that each year my grandmother, Rose Behnke, would get her fresh Sho-Nuf turkey from her best friend Mrs. Iager. Come to find out, these folks were my grandmother’s friend’s son and daughter-in-law.

I started telling Mr. Iager about my grandmother’s cookbook that has so many notes about how she cooked the turkey each year, who came to dinner, and, of course, the Maple Lawn tags with the sizes and prices on them.  Each year I pull that book out to make sure I am making our Maple Lawn turkey correctly.  I know that after 39 years of making Thanksgiving Dinner (a few times someone else in our family has cooked), my simple tradition of looking at her cookbook and making sure I started with the best turkey, I never had any problems with the result. The bird was always tender and moist even when my potatoes and gravy were lumpy.

Mr. Iager remembered my grandmother and grandfather and talked about the days when they would come to visit the farm and his parents. We both remember that they had a very special relationship.  With both couples owning their own businesses, I’m sure they had a lot in common. They understood the struggles involved in creating successful companies.

When my grandmother would visit the Iagers’ farm, one of her favorite things to see and hear were the beautiful Canadian geese that lived on the property. Rose was an avid photographer and I seem to recall (but cannot find) some photos she took of these geese flying around Maple Lawn’s pond. Toward the end of my grandmother’s life she had many Canadian geese around the house. Stuffed animals, pictures and small figurines. And we always made sure that our Christmas shop had some geese for her to give as gifts.

Many times Mrs. Iager would come to visit my grandmother and they would walk around my grandparents’ private gardens in Burtonsville. Of course when she would visit in the Summer months, she would leave with an armful of beautiful roses that my grandfather, Albert Behnke, cut just for her.

It was so interesting to talk to the Iagers and to find that we all shared some of the same memories.  And, if you ever want to try a fresh turkey, I highly recommend theirs.  Just get your order in early! I get mine now at a local butcher in Mt. Airy, MD supplied Maple Lawn, but so many people still line up down their long farm driveway in Fulton as part of their own family tradition

by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s Vice President

Stephanie Fleming

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Bless you all and get some rest! As a garden center employee I know how hard you all work. I also know how much you must love it and will miss it.

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