New Milford farmer starts fresh after fire destroys barn a year ago
NEW MILFORD — Dan Weed was a fourth-generation dairy farmer. Before the fire, that is.
A mid-October blaze last year left Weed scrambling after it destroyed a barn. Everything inside was lost, and Weed, 23, had to figure out what to do next. He still had land, but after the loss of machinery and 6,000 bales of hay, the future looked bleak.
“It was a major, major setback,” Weed said, shaking his head Friday. “But the fire opened up my eyes to see what else there was out there.”
There were vegetables, organic ones, that “had always treated me well,” Weed said. So he set about changing: Gone are the cows — “72 Jerseys” sold off in June — and in came heirloom vegetables. Starting next year, area residents can buy into his farm through a Community Supported Agriculture program.
For $550 this winter, you can get a grocery basket full of vegetables weekly for 24 weeks in the summer; for $300, 12 weeks.
“I’m putting everything I have into this,” Weed said.
He’s banking on New Milford’s love of organic vegetables. He leased 100 more acres in town, farmland he’s turning organic, and he’s bought a tractor and hired two full-timers.
Come summer, he’ll expand his operation further. Atop the CSA setup, he’ll stock two farm stands with the 25 varieties of vegetables he plans to grow, and he’ll peddle veggies at four local farmers’ markets.
To sign up for Dan Weed’s CSA, contact Dan at (203) 501-0203
Over the summer, when he was still a dairy farmer, his tomatoes flew off shelves and were bought by the basketful. He hopes his other vegetables do as well, he said.
For organic farming, it can take three times the work, he said. But it’s worth it. “It just tastes so much better,” he said.
The only cow he has left is a figurine on his truck’s dashboard. The only salvageable barn item: A burned tool box he got for Christmas years ago.
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