Freund’s Farm, East Canaan CT
Rachel and Amanda Freund
Matt and Ben Freund’s parents bought the farm shortly after World War II and the brothers have lived there their whole lives. The next generation of the Freund family intends to continue the tradition of farming the land they love.
While Matt and Ben manage the milking herd of 270 cows, Theresa manages more than 10 acres of gardens and 15,000 square feet of greenhouses. At Freunds Farm Market and Bakery, she sells Cabot Cheese, annuals and perennials, fruits and vegetables, locally produced maple syrup and honey, baked goods and more. Theresa’s farm market includes a commercial kitchen where she processes farm fresh and local produce into pickles, jams and for catered meals throughout the state.
Long before the concept of sustainable farming became a topic of national concern, the Freunds searched for ways to improve their environmental impact on their farmlands. Rather than view the tons of manure produced by their herd as an insolvable problem, they found an opportunity. Through trial and error, they found a way to turn cow manure into retail gold. They invented CowPots.
Simply put, the manure is collected and placed in a large tank called a methane digester. The methane gas is collected and burned as energy, and this reduces the farm’s carbon footprint. The liquid portion of the manure is separated and used as fertilizer to grow next year’s crops for the cows, while the solids continue composting. It is this composted manure that is used to mold the CowPots, a biodegradable seed starting pot.
The Freunds’ spirit of ingenuity and mindfulness will help guarantee the success of their farm for generations to come.
Two members of the third generation, Amanda and Rachel, took the lead on answering our Farmer Friday questions…with a little help from their family!
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
Rachel: My favorite thing about being a dairy farm family is how certain values are instilled in us as children which we carry with us our whole life. We have grown up among the cows, the corn, and pastures; experienced the seasons through both sights and our smells. We know that to work hard is a simple expectation.
What is your family’s favorite meal? Care to share a recipe?
Well, I had hoped to come to a consensus by the 6 members of the Freund family, but it seems that we all have very different (and passionate) responses to this particular question!
Matt (dad): Milk-fed pork chops
Theresa (mom): Meat loaf and mashed potatoes
Amanda (daughter): Grilled Cabot cheese with home-grown tomato
Emily (daughter): Tomato cucumber salad
Isaac (son): Steak
Rachel (daughter): Tomato cucumber salad
Recipe for the Freund Tomato Cucumber Salad
This recipe is a summer recipe – intended to be made only with truly fresh and just-picked local tomatoes and cucumbers! Tomatoes out of season just won’t do.
- Fresh local tomatoes chopped into 1″ squares. Cutting the tomatoes over the final serving bowl is important so that the juice from the tomato is mixed into the salad.
- Cucumbers (peeled or not, whichever you prefer) chopped into 1″ squares. Use equal amounts of tomatoes and cucumbers.
- Avocado gently cut into 1″ squares.
- Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar chopped into slightly smaller than 1″ pieces.
- Radish, finely chopped
- Scallions, finely chopped
- Handful of pine nuts
- Italian salad dressing-generous coating
The Freund family eats this same salad every single night of the week while tomatoes are available from their farm’s greenhouse!
What is your least favorite farm chore?
Rachel: Both my favorite and least favorite, checking the heats for the herd in the mornings after a rainstorm and getting stuck in the mud! Calling someone for help is such a headache!
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
Amanda: Late spring! Being able to wake up in the morning and head out for chores in a t-shirt and not have to pile on the layers of clothing. Late spring is also after we’ve gotten the corn planted; the cows have officially gotten into the routine of going and coming from pasture. Green grass, lilacs, sugar snap peas, fresh cut hay, dinners on the porch, and enough daylight remaining at the end of the day to take a stroll after dinner and see cows scattered on the field with Canaan Mountain as the backdrop and I’m reminded of what a beautiful place this is.
What is the one thing you would like people who have never experienced farm life to know?
Matt: Being a dairy farmer is not just an occupation, it’s a lifestyle.
Theresa: We don’t think of ourselves as landowners, but as caretakers. If we do our job right, the land will be even better for the next generation than it was for us.
Amanda: Connecticut (Cabot) cows are happy cows!
Rachel: Farm work is hard but is many more times rewarding!