Published on Saturday, October 22, 2016
For over 30 years, Theresa Freund has warmly greeted the customers visiting her East Caanan, Connecticut farm market in search of fresh produce, gift items and baked goods.
“When Amanda was born, I realized I couldn’t really milk cows and chase after heifers. I tried, I really did try.” Theresa recalls. “I put her in a little carrier on my back and I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll help you catch that heifer.’ But then all of the sudden I was slipping and I had this baby. I even tried putting her in a little carrier outside the barn and there she was, crying. So I was like, ‘Oh no, I can’t do this. This is not going to work.’ But I’m not the type of person that’s going to sit around and twiddle my thumbs, so the big garden just got bigger and bigger.”
Over three decades, the market has expanded from a roadside stand to a two story post and beam barn. Today, locals rave about the farm’s famous pickles and delicious catered meals. Theresa enjoys sharing the tastes of her family’s farm. “There’s a lot of us in our meals. We do corn casserole which is sweet corn and Cabot sour cream and butter. Then we do cucumber scallion radish salad. Our pulled pork has my apple butter in it. Those are the fun things we can create from the things that we grow.”
“I think of myself as the public view of the farm, but in reality, all that goes on behind the scenes, if it wasn’t for the dairy, I wouldn’t be here. What’s happening over in the dairy barn, that’s so cool.” Theresa beams. While she keeps up the market, Theresa’s husband, brother-in-law, children, and a handful of close employees fulfill their own responsibilities throughout the farm.
Behind the farm market, 275 milk cows contently chew their cud while the Freund family tends to their every need. “Amanda, my oldest sister, feeds the cows every day. Then my little sister, Rachel, she’s the herdswoman. She does all the cow herd health, breeding, vaccinations, and moving animals around. I have one more sister that works on another farm.” Theresa’s son Isaac explains. “I’m kind of in my father’s footsteps. He’s always done the equipment and the crops. He’s the one that’s started CowPots and he’s kind of the head of that. Me doing what I do here in the shop with the equipment kind of allows him to go focus more on the CowPots stuff.”
In addition to the farm market and dairy, the Freund’s Connecticut farm is also home to CowPots, biodegradable pots you can plant. The award winning innovation is made from the manure produced on the Freund’s farm and came out of the family’s vision for nutrient stewardship.
“It’s my life. It’s who I am. I was born into it." Isaac says. "I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m third generation. It’s following in not only my father’s footsteps, but also my grandfather’s footsteps. He may have been a Brooklyn boy from New York City, but he came up married the farmers’ daughter and started his own dairy farm. Over 50 or 60 years later, here we are still going and I hope it keeps going for another 60 years or more. It’s a way of life. Not many places can you grow up and take ownership in it. In the end, you end up with hundreds of acres of beautiful land that you can call yours. And you’re respected by your community and just to be able to give back to the community also. It’s a neat feeling, and a neat experience. I don’t really know why, I guess it’s just the way we’re wired.”
Rachel shares similar thoughts, “It’s what I know. I grew up with this lifestyle. I can’t imagine a life without cows in the background. I farm to stay connected with animals. I’m a very huge animal lover. The work isn’t always cuddly, but we still provide them with the right environment and quality care. They do right by you if you do right by them.”
Theresa is proud to see her children’s enthusiasm for agriculture. “I think the best part is I’ve given my children something they can have pride in and develop their passion. This is something you pass along. As a parent, the fact that we passed that passion onto the children is pretty phenominal.”
That’s why the Freund family farms.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Why I Farm, farmers, dairy, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Connecticut, Freund's Farm Market, produce, CowPots