Diemand Farm Prepares to Launch Meat Share Program
The Recorder, March 29, 2017, by Richie Davis
For an 80-year-old multigenerational operation, Diemand Farm seems to be constantly morphing.
Known for years for its egg production and its turkeys, Diemand Farm is ready to launch a meat CSA, or community supported agriculture operation. It’s less of a stretch than you might imagine, since the farm has been raising meat animals for years and selling frozen meat, along with baked goods, eggs and prepared foods like frozen turkey lasagna, turkey soup and chicken pot pies at its Mormon Hollow Road farm store. It also sells co-owner Peter Diemand’s handcrafted wooden bowls, maple syrup and other items.
“We’re always looking for what else can we do to expand the business without a big money input,” said co-owner Ann Diemand Bucci, especially after passage of a voter referendum last November that will likely require the family to change the way it keeps its 3,000 laying hens. But even without that pressure, family members continue looking for new profit-making ideas, including one Bucci said it tried six or seven years ago but “just didn’t fly.”
Bucci said the CSA had been something the family had been considering as something to add on, even before the November vote.
“We’re just trying to stay in business here,” she said.
The new CSA, which launches in May for its first May-though-November season, includes beef, chicken and frozen turkey sausage and ground turkey, as well as a turkey for Thanksgiving and a prepared food item as “a bonus.”
“It’s just a way of marketing our meat differently, because people don’t know what we have,” said Tammy Ketcham, who runs the CSA. “People just come for their Thanksgiving turkey and never even notice what else we have.”
All poultry products are processed on the farm, and Diemand’s grass-fed beef is processed at Adams Farm in Athol. Full CSA shares provide about 100 pounds of meat a month and are distributed monthly at the farm store, as are half-shares of about 50 pounds each. The farm store also sells a small volume of lamb.
The farm’s beef herd, which it has had for more than a dozen years, has been growing and now has 23 animals. In preparation for the CSA, Diemand has been adding about 300 chicks a month, said Ketcham.
It’s hard to know how many CSA members to expect, she said, but people who are interested will be able to find application materials on the Diemand Farm website.
“It’s a learning experience for us,” she said. “It’s still a work in progress. We’re open to suggestions from people to tell us how to work it for them better.”
One customer’s request at around Christmastime for a “gift bag” of Diemand prepared foods added another idea to the farm’s mix of offerings, so it now offers bags in various sizes, with delivery available.
Gift bags, for convalescence, celebration or any occasion, can contain a customer’s choice of pot pies, stuffed mushrooms, shepherd’s pie, TV dinners, jambalaya, macaroni and cheese, soups, desserts or other products.
Meanwhile, the Diemand family, which had raised concerns of possibly having to scale back its egg business to meet the requirements of its laying chickens, has decided to continue its egg-laying operation to see what the options are in the five years before the farm has to comply.
“We don’t know yet,” said Bucci. “We decided to just make it through the winter and gain our energy back. We have until 2022, so we’re just seeing what our options are.”
Find more info on Diemand Farm’s website
You can reach Richie Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org