Jack Wilson, age 10, tends the turkeys at Prairie Center Meats, 16240 Edgerton Road in Edgerton. www.prairiecentermeats.com. Submitted photo
Special to The Gardner News
Chad and Krista Wilson, owners of Prairie Center Meats, believe in giving back some of the goodness that has come to them. When eight families applied for their giveaway, a free turkey with all the trimmings, they couldn’t bear to choose only one winner.
“We planned to give away a turkey, and our extended family wanted to provide the fixings for dinner,” Krista Wilson said. “We received eight nominations, and we wanted to give dinners to all of them.”
Krista and her husband read the applications about families who had lost jobs, fallen on tight times, or had cancer, and they remembered spending the holidays in the hospital with their youngest child back in 2011, not knowing how they would pay the surging medical bills. They remember exactly what it feels like to struggle.
“So many things can happen in a family to make money tight,” Krista Wilson said. “We feel like we need to share our bounty, because people have helped us out so much in the past when we really needed it.”
They decided to pull together some help for all eight families. The Morning Glory 4H Club of Gardner stepped up to provide food, and a person from Edgerton who has made it an annual tradition to offer a Thanksgiving meal to a family also stepped in to help.
“We couldn’t afford to supply eight free turkeys, so our church, Living Hope in Olathe, offered gift cards, too,” Krista said.
All those families will get a nutritious Thanksgiving dinner with locally sourced meat, thanks to the Wilsons, their extended family, and their friends. Krista said that hard times could happen to anyone.
“You have your plans of what things will be like, but plans change,” Krista said. “When you go through those hard things, you can become calloused or you can use that challenge as a springboard.”
Chad and Krista sprang back from hardship when they started their business, Prairie Center Meats, in 2015. They named it Prairie Center after the little town in this area, gone now, where Krista’s great-great grandparents homesteaded in the 1860s.
“We’ve grown up on farms our whole life,” Krista said.
Their farm has 200 chickens, 15 to 20 cows, 15 sheep, a dozen sows with piglets, and many ducks. They decided right away that the animals on their farm would be treated with dignity, love, and respect.
“We want them to be happy while they can be,” Krista said. “When your meat is locally sourced, you can control what the birds eat. There is less processing. Producers can inject up to 20 percent of water and liquids into their poultry, and that is water weight. We don’t do that type of thing, so our food has more flavor.”
The Wilson children, Jack, 10, and Lydia, 9, also help on the farm. Jack, a homeschool student, studies different breeds of turkeys. Lydia, who attends Edgerton Elementary, raises rabbits as a 4H project.
“When Lydia was born, we were told she never would walk, talk or feed herself,” Krista said. “She walks, she talks, and she surely does feed herself. We found the right doctor at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Lydia is very smart and hard working.”
Lydia was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality. She has no corpus callosum – the bundle of neural fibers that connects left and right brain hemispheres of the brain. She had a brain bleed in utero, and contracted a virus.
“When our daughter was little, I was not able to work,” Krista said. “We needed to take care of her and we ran into financial problems.”
Lydia and Jack’s grandparents, Gloria and J.P. Lefman in Gardner, and Richard and Vicki Wilson in Edgerton, stepped up to do all they could, along with family, friends, and caring people they hadn’t met yet. Teachers and staff at Louisburg School District, especially Broadmoor Elementary School where Krista worked, planned a chili supper fundraiser to help with those medical bills.
“People helped us when we needed it, so now it’s our turn to help,” Krista said. “We both were raised to help other people.”
Her parents took in foster children from 1969 until quite recently, which inspired Krista and Chad to care for foster children in their own home from 2007 to 2018. They have had more than 30 foster children in those eleven years.
“We really liked longer term placement so the kids could do 4H projects,” Krista said. “We enjoy it so much. My parents fostered children as far back as 1969, and we build great relationships with kids.”
Chad, Krista, Jack, and Lydia Wilson give thanks for the health and love they have found, and the kindness others have shown to them. The website for Prairie Center Meats, www.prairiecentermeats.com, shows bundles and a special on turkeys for the holidays, plus spice blends, farm fresh eggs, and more. Supplying nutritious local food at an affordable cost has become part of the Wilson family tradition of helping others. They dedicate their family life to making their community a happier, healthier place for everyone.
“My parents used to find out what people needed, and then our pastor would deliver them in secret,” Krista said. “We all have to do what we can. We have so many chances to be good to each other.”