- Becca Toms
Growing Health at Daigle Farm in Brooklyn CT
By Becca Toms
As you drive down the long driveway to reach Daigle Farm in Brooklyn, you may see deer pausing by the property's pond after grazing on tufts of grass. They look up at the oncoming car and pause as if trying to decide if you are intruding or if they are.
Though deer are not a friend of vegetables, their presence is a testament to the method Dillon has been using to grow on his acre+ of land. One that mimics how nature grows; without sprays or chemicals, with a living soil that moves and breathes, and space for sun, air, and water. Though these all seem idyllic, it's a lot of hard work: something that Dillon Daigle, owner of the farm, is not a stranger to.
In his teenage years, when other kids were working at the local grocery store, Dillon started his own business delivering eggs to neighbors. It was his flock to care for, his route to deliver (whether by car or bike), and his responsibility to collect and spend his hard-earned dollars. Well, he's older now, but he's still caring for a flock of laying hens - and a small herd of pigs, broiler hens, a farm dog and cat, and a ton of veggies. It is no small amount of work to care for it all. Dillon works full time, with his partner Cassidy lending a hand, giving this farm the attention it needs because he wants healthy food.
Dillon says he farms because he looked at what was in the grocery stores, at what people bought for their families, and he knew they needed a better option- something that was better for them and better tasting. Something that was natural. So he quit his job working at a local nursery and went to work, making sure his community was eating food that would strengthen their bodies through their diets.
He uses organic practices to grow this food for the community. The plants are free to grow and battle it out with weeds and pests, but they have Dillon and Cassidy to defend them. The animals aren't pumped with unnecessary antibiotics or given growth hormones, but they have Dillon and Cassidy to watch over them closely and feed them substantial and diverse diets. Dillon knows that this means his food has more nutrients, does more good for the body, and does more good for the environment too.
Though it’s a small farm now, they have plans to grow on the property. Cassidy imagines integrating other forms of health into the farm by exploring medicinal herbs and practicing reiki at the pond. Dillon hopes for more access to the forested area of the property to give the pigs more foraging opportunities and better crop rotations to rest the soil. They both want to see this farm as a place people come and feel a little more alive because of it. For those who can't go to the farm, Dillon makes deliveries to homes. They also sell to local restaurants and partner with other farms to make their food a little more accessible.
If you stop by their stand at a farmer's market, you'll probably end up laughing and wanting to linger and talk longer. They don't just know how to care for plants and animals, they care for people, and the lighter heart that you leave with after getting your weekly veggies ensures that you leave with your spirit a little bit healthier.
Becca is the Communications Coordinator for the Sustainable Foods program at UConn Extension and loves to show the heart behind why CT farmers farm.