A more beautiful barn

Artists thank turkey farmers with unique murals 

By Tom Vandyck October 15, 2015

Cargill turkey brands Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms wanted to show their immense gratitude to the 700 independent farmers who supply their birds. Three families got to meet with international artists and share their stories, hopes and dreams. The artists then used them as inspiration to create murals on the farms' barns.

The results are visually stunning and a powerful testament to family, the land and honest work. Glenn Robertson from Loose Creek, Missouri, had always wanted to make a tribute to his late parents. His farm has enabled him to be his own boss and be with his family. "It allows you to know hard work, how to respect animals and respect each other,” he said.

When Robertson first met with two graffiti artists from Rotterdam, The Netherlands, he was slightly apprehensive. After an afternoon with the Robertson family – kids and grandkids packed the living room – they came up with a design that represents the new generation, but also honors the family legacy.

The final result shows a kid wearing Glenn Robertson's father's old hat, reaching out to an oversized turkey chick. The painting, covering the barn's side wall, is nothing short of monumental and hits home in its simplicity and photorealistic directness.

"I just wish my mom and dad would have been here," said Robertson, choking away his emotions. "They would have been proud."

Craig and Nancy Miller from Virginia have been in the turkey business for 30 years this summer. Their farm will be 100 years old in 2018. The Millers teamed up with a muralist from the city of Porto in Portugal, who, for all his skills, never attended art school. He wanted to give back to a farm community. "I feel that it's so important that we do things the right way, because we are what we eat," he said.

Craig and Nancy, too, paid tribute to their family. "Our kids really inspired me to respect nature more," said Craig. "There are a lot of people that are now using conservation practices. If I just did a little part of that, then I'm really proud."

The artist went to work on the old barn, which was itself a conservation project. He painted the world on a turkey egg, accompanied by the slogan 'Nature is not a place to visit, it is home,' and presented Nancy and Craig with a framed version of those same words.

Nancy, too, teared up. "Now don't cry," said the artist.

She patted him on the back and said it was okay. "It's because I love you."