Outlook 2019: Diemand Farm in Wendell yokes other endeavors with farm work

MassLive, February 10, 2019 by Cori Urban

Back in 1936 Al Diemand purchased a 125-acre farm in the rural Franklin County town of Wendell, laying the foundation for a successful chicken – then egg – business. Some of his children now own the business and have yoked other endeavors under the Diemand Farm umbrella.

Over the intervening 82 years the Diemands have diversified the family-run business, responding to changes in government regulation and customer needs.

Several years ago, the federal Food & Drug Administration enacted rules for egg farms with more than 3,000 laying hens, and, because the Diemand Farm had a flock of 15,000, the decision was made to reduce the numbers rather than make the large investment necessary to meet demands of the regulations.

To make up for that lost revenue, the farm – which now has about 200 acres – added a sawmill operation.

That’s just one way members of the Diemand family have responded to the circumstances of the times through diversification. There’s been more, much more done to keep the family farm functioning.

Diemand Farm now raises turkeys and beef cattle and sells cord wood and native lumber.

The farm has a catering business, offers various Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives and sells things like barbecued turkey legs and pulled turkey sandwiches at a limited number of festivals. They used to sell hay and maple syrup.

Now a mainstay of the farm is its farm store and small commercial kitchen, located next to the farmhouse where members of the Diemand family still live. Patriarch Al Diemand and his wife, Elsie, are deceased.

From baked goods to hormone and antibiotic-free meat to soups to prepared meals, the offerings are hearty and delicious. Potpies are priced from $4.75 to $13.50. A dozen eggs costs $3.25, and sandwiches sell for about $5.

“We have good food,” says Anne M. Diemand Bucci, a co-owner and vice president.

She does much of the cooking herself, and she is showing her daughter, Tessa R. White-Diemand – whom she calls “the future of the farm” – all aspects of the farm operation.

When she was a child, White-Diemand used to get off the school bus in front of the farm to spend time there with her grandparents. She enjoyed having lots of room to play and roam, but she also helped with farm chores.

“It taught me a good work ethic,” she says.

And, when asked what she learned from her father, Bucci says Al Diemand also taught her a good work ethic: “When you finish a job, look around and see what else needs to be done. If I’m done with my job, help somebody else so we can all get done.”

Her parents also taught her to take pride in what she does, and knowing her family name is on the farm products, “that’s huge to me,” she said.

The farm sells products not only from its own store but also to other retail stores, restaurants and schools across Western Massachusetts.

The Diemand Farm has two full-time and a half dozen part-time employees.

As she contemplates the future of the Diemand Farm, Bucci says she’s excited because there is a future.

“Farming and life in general are not always easy,” she says. “But, with (my daughter) coming back (to work at the farm), I see some of the next generation is showing an interest, and that’s hopeful to me.”

And she’s open to incubating other ideas for the farm, perhaps, for example, a greenhouse operation or Airbnb cabins.

Bucci – one of Al and Elsie‘s 12 children – recalled a conversation with a business associate of her father who told her Al and Elsie would be proud not only of the direction in which she and her siblings have taken the farm but because of who they have become as people.

That gives her reason to crow.

For more information, visit the farm’s website, thediemandfarm.com.

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