One goal of the Local, Healthy UMass Food System Initiative is to increase the amount of lean animal proteins purchased locally, which would yield a plethora of benefits from plate to farm to region:
We have already made progress towards meeting the goal of sourcing more meat from local farms. We have established relationships with Misty Knoll Farms in Vermont (poultry), Diemand Farm in Wendell, MA (poultry), PT Farm in New Hampshire (beef and pork), and Maple Valley Farm in Hadley, MA (beef). Our largest local partner, Joe Czajkowski Farm in Hadley, MA, also began raising poultry for UMass last year and plans to ramp up production.
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We are revisiting a local farm that we originally featured in our Farmer of the Week program over fifteen months ago - Diemand Farm in Wendell, MA - to find out what’s new on the farm!
The farm continues to be operated by siblings Anne, Faith, and Pete Diemand. While their range of products — from eggs to lumber to compost to handmade, wooden bird houses— is as diverse as ever, turkey continues to be their most important product. Just last year, the farm expanded production by roughly 500 turkeys to bring their annual total to about 6,000.
According to Pete, while Thanksgiving is certainly the busiest time of year in the turkey business, they sell them for most of the year. UMass Dining has been a valued customer for the Diemands, as it has continually increased the amount of turkey it buys each year. The Diemand family has been one of UMass Dining’s closest partners in its initiative to source more lean, local proteins across campus.
For some turkey farmers across the United States, business has become challenging due to an outbreak of the Avian Influenza which can decimate poultry populations. Fortunately, New England farms, including Diemand Farm, have been able to avoid the disease altogether.
Nevertheless, Pete says that they have taken precautions to avoid the influenza, in particular limiting the public’s access to certain parts of the farm. Last year, they cautiously decided to cancel the annual Easter egg hunt to assure that their animals would not be exposed to the Avian flu.
The Diemands are a good example of why supporting local farms and businesses is a worthwhile goal. They are committed to selling a product using humane, safe practices and equally committed to being active members of their local community. Stop by their farm store (it’s only about 25 minutes from campus) to try their famous turkey pot pie!
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