Mansfield isn't just home to UConn and Huskies, but some great farms that provide delicious veggies for you- and Diane is making sure there are plenty of the veggies!
On summer days, if you don’t find Diane Dorfer of Cobblestone Farm CSA in her fields tending to her crops, or greeting CSA members, then you can find her in the kitchen. Blanching, canning, or freezing the bounty that she has grown for her family to be nourished by during our cold CT winters. Sometimes her husband is beside her tending the stove, or her son and daughter are participating by chopping or putting veggies in a quick dip of boiling water before a trip to the freezer.
This processing, and the recipes that her family makes (some developed by her, shared by friends and CSA members, or passed down from family), are what Diane considers the “fundamental parts of building a strong family dynamic and culture around the food that we eat.” You see, for Diane it is not just the joy of growing food from a productive soil that would otherwise be taken over by mugwort, “it’s this opportunity for people to build their family relationships too. People come here with kids and pick their own cherry tomatoes, herbs, beans, peas, and more through the CSA, and those are important moments."
Diane saw this when she first started farming. Prior to her 8 years as a farm business, she was raising food for her family, and bringing kids from the daycare she ran from her house into the fields to experience the joy of growing. Though the daycare kids have grown and gone, Diane still sells veggies to local schools to help kids create positive meal memories. She now grows literal tons more than her family can consume, so she is able to provide over 125 CSA shares to families and community members that support her business each year.
With her popular CSA (Community Support Agriculture, AKA farm share) individuals get to build and create their own food traditions, undergrads from UConn begin to understand their own preferences, and “the make your own sauce” lovers (who will buy over 100lbs of tomatoes) preserve family recipes that they will enjoy all year long. Folks participate in their food, and create traditions that they seek to pass on, by cooking recipes they love from the abundance they bring home each week. Beyond the CSA program, Diane also sells at the Storrs Farmers Market and to local food access programs.
Sometimes her CSA members are surprised by the attachments they develop to the farm, and the habits they develop because Diane has brought them into a community of food lovers. Though pick-up can be a quick in-and-out grab of the weekly farm share, many choose to turn the experience into a destination, which is especially highlighted by the optional pick-your-own part of the CSA. Folks can spend more than half an hour just enjoying the process of participating in the selection of their food: the kids choose their cherry tomato treasures, adults chat about recipes as they peruse the pre-picked items, and bodies experience the sun, the soil, and the life of the plants that creates an intimacy that we casually refer to in the catch phrase “know your farmer, know your food.”
And in case you don’t get to that point of knowing your food, Diane has got you covered too. With over 20 years of experimenting with crops, she has selected only her favorite varieties of vegetables for her CSA: which includes an add on of a 6 to 8 week tomato share. It even has a variety that her family has bred themselves! The delicious pale green cherry tomato Limelight #8. Not to mention all the paste, heirloom and slicers varieties they have trialed over the years.
So if you are looking for a CSA in the Mansfield area this year, of course Diane has some openings she would welcome you to. But we warn you. You will get more than just produce from the farm. You will get the outpouring of care that Diane puts into her crops. You will get the friendship of neighbors that you will meet and greet over and over as you develop bonds and food habits over the weeks. And of course, you will get all the flavor that is synonymous with the carefully curated crops that taste even better because they are fresh from the field.