By Madison Walker, Sustainable Food Systems Coordinator
On Tuesday October 21st, I got a very special tour of Diemand Farm in Wendell, Massachusetts. It was a BEAUTIFUL fall morning and the perfect day to get an insider’s look at some of the daily activities of a diversified, family-run farm.
Why was I visiting Diemand Farm? For the first time, Chicopee Public Schools are partnering with a local farm in order to serve local turkey to the students for a pre-Thanksgiving turkey meal before the holiday break. The turkey dinner will be complete with mashed potatoes and butternut squash, sourced from the nearby Czjakowski Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts.
Diemand Farm is known for their high-quality and DELICIOUS products sold at their on-site Farm Store. Anyone can come in and purchase farm-fresh eggs, pot pies, roasting chickens, turkey meat, a variety of homemade soups, homemade dinners like turkey lasagna, chicken stew, mac and cheese, plus much more, depending on the season.
On this day, the folks working in the Farm Store were busy preparing various products to be sold in the store. Anne Diemand (one of twelve siblings who grew up on this farm that their parents started in 1936) came out from behind the counter to start showing me around. We first went to see the turkeys; the farm is raising 5,600 turkeys this Thanksgiving season! The turkeys spend their days in a large grass field with trees bordering two sides and large feeders in the middle. We entered the field and Annie assured us we could leave the gate open behind us. She was right; not a single turkey darted for the open gate. Instead they gathered around us, leaving a very respectful five feet buffer in-between us and them. I learned a lot about turkeys from Annie. For example, despite the weather conditions, the turkeys prefer to be outside than under shelter; even during severe snow storms!
After we left the turkeys, we visited the farm’s egg-laying hens and the meat chickens. We also got to look around the farm wood shop. One of Annie’s siblings uses wood from their forest to make wooden bowls, spinning tops, and is even trying out baseball bats! That is one way the farm is diversifying its services and products.
Anne was a fabulous host and extremely knowledgeable on all things related to her farm and farming practices. I left Diemand Farm with a turkey pot pie and a very thorough understanding of where our food was coming from, how it is being raised, and who the caretakers are. Hopefully the partnership between Chicopee Schools and Diemand Farm will continue in the future.
To learn more about Diemand Farm, visit www.TheDiemandFarm.com
The ChicopeeFRESH team is a group of creative individuals who are working to feed Chicopee students healthy, local and FRESH foods each day.