Bringing the Farm Aid festival to a new location each year gives us a welcome opportunity to meet new family farmers. With Farm Aid 2018 in Hartford fast approaching, here’s a new batch of Connecticut Farmer Heroes that you, our readers, have nominated. We think, like us, you’ll find inspiration and hope for the future of family farm agriculture in these farmers’ stories!
Candace wrote in with this lovely tribute to her husband, Ben:
Ben is a 9th generation dairy farmer who works so hard to keep his family’s legacy alive. I am lucky enough to call him my husband. He is also an amazing father to our 8-year old daughter, Hailey.
It is so beautiful to see them together on the farm, Ben so prideful and patient as he teaches Hailey this life. Aside from his own work, he is there to lend a helping hand to not only neighboring farmers, but anyone in his community when they need help. In May, a tornado struck our town, he was right there to help all his neighbors in need, even though he had clean-up of his own. He does his work with pride and no complaints. His love for his family, farmland, livestock and community is unconditional and appreciated by so many. He truly is a Farmer Hero!
Reading through these Farmer Hero nominations, the traits of generosity and kindness come up again and again. This one from Melissa Morales is a wonderful example:
My Farmer Hero is my brother Carlos, or as everyone else calls him, Clos. My brother went to New Orleans, right after Katrina when he was 16 years old. He went with a few people to help feed the people of New Orleans and help them rebuild. While living in NOLA for a few years, he learned about organic farming and when he came back to Connecticut, he started working at a small farm in New Britain. He used all of his knowledge to help turn a tiny urban farm into a thriving one. He went on to open his own farm, shortly after known as Run It Organics. He grows organic vegetables and herbs and sells them at farmers markets, to small business owners, or anyone who wants fresh organic vegetables for a reasonable price. He has taught others how to start their own mini gardens at their homes and has even taught children about farming.
Clos is known in the community for his knowledge and free spirit. But this is not the only reason my brother is my Farmer Hero. He has been part of Food Not Bombs, a nonprofit self-funded program that feeds the hungry vegetarian meals every single Sunday, rain, snow or sun at Bushnell Park in Hartford. He has been doing this for over 10 years now and it is a part of who he is. He visits local bakeries to ask them if they can donate any leftover baked goods to help feed the hungry. He always makes sure that everyone who comes to Food Not Bombs leaves with a full belly and some extra food to take with them. My brother is 30 years old and he has spent half of his life helping others. His love, kindness and overwhelming desire to help others is why my brother is my Farmer Hero.
Darlene Gunkel’s Farmer Hero nomination shows how young people interacting with farmers can create a lasting love for animals and the family farm lifestyle.
Farmer Paul has a small farm where he raises beef cows, not just any beef cows but Blonde d’Aquitaine, a French breed of cows.
Mr.Paul met my daughter at a farmers market as my daughter was begging me to buy one of his cows for her! The next day we drove to his farm and, well, her love of the cows hasn’t stopped! That year my daughter started showing the cows at local fairs with Mr.Paul and she loved every minute. He is such a wonderful mentor and has become part of our family.
This is a first for us: 13 people nominated Brianne as a Farmer Hero! With that kind of community support, we’re proud to highlight her work inspiring future generations and providing good food for her area. We’ll let Brianne’s son Thatcher introduce her:
My mom, Brianne Casadei (aka Farmer Brie), is a single mother to me and my sister Ivy. She began farming in 2004 as a first-generation farmer at the age of 25. Since then she’s been dedicated to growing the highest quality and best tasting products we can for our family and our community. As a nonprofit community farm, we also have committed our energies to opening up our farm for educational field trips, programs and summer camps reconnecting youth to agriculture.
Terra Firma Farm is run by my mom and myself (age 11) and my sister Ivy (age 8). and is a diversified pasture-based livestock and poultry farm located in North Stonington, Connecticut. Using environmentally sustainable practices and alternative energy inputs, we produce 100% grass-fed milk yogurt and ice cream, as well as beef, heritage breed pork, broiler chickens, layer chickens, specialty poultry and rabbits–all on pasture. We are Animal Welfare Approved, and we sell direct at our farm and wholesale to local restaurants and co-ops in Connecticut.
Whether participating in educational programs or volunteer farm days, or simply stopping by, everyone is welcome to take part in the life of Terra Firma Farm and learn the importance of the local agriculture & community.
Tracy Brunelle’s admiration for Brianne shines in her nomination:
I am so proud of Farmer Brie, owner of Terra Firma Farm. She has grown her farm to reach the community in so many ways. Camp for kids, milk, meats and so much more that I’m able to buy because of her hard work. If I had to name someone that I admire, it would be her a hundred times over. She has put so much blood, sweat, tears and LOVE into everything she does. My kids have gone to her camp, and I buy all her products. I recommend her food every chance I get. She was a neighbor and easy for me to stop in at. Even though she had to move a town away it hasn’t stopped me from seeking her out.
And here’s one more example of Brianne helping make kids happy, as written by Wendy St. George:
We’ve loved Terra Firma Farm since they started – Farmer Brie is a wonderful member of the community! My son attended farm camp there when he was little and loved it – getting to meet all the animals on the farm and truly see where food comes from was a blessing. We love being able to get fresh local milk from them – we call it “yummy milk” because it’s the best! Farmer Brie deserves all the help, love, and support she can get for her amazing farm 🙂
Thank you to everyone who has shared stories about their Farmer Heroes. We’ll be featuring more of them soon, so go ahead and tell us about the family farmers who make a difference in your life.