Fred Monahan, owner and grower at Stone Gardens Farm in Shelton, has been invited to be a part of one of the working groups developed for the Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development, a state advisory board led by Agricultural Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky.
The council, which was reorganized in 2011 after legislation was passed to revive the group, is charged with making recommendations to the state Department of Agriculture on ways to increase spending by Connecticut residents on locally grown produce and farm products.
Unique approach: Freezing, canning produce
Monahan was asked to serve on the council’s working group due to the success at Stone Gardens Farm in their processing of fresh produce in the summer to be consumed later in the year.
“We are one of the only farms in the state that started freezing some of our summer produce and offering it to consumers,” Monahan said. “There is definitely an interest out there, and it’s good to encourage other farmers to process their stuff too. “
Stone Gardens also began processing their tomatoes and peppers last year into jarred sauce and salsa, which is sold at their farmstand and a few other locations.
“Processing in the summer allows you to be able to offer your product year-round,” Monahan said. “Through processing, we can eventually get more Connecticut-grown products into institutions, like schools and hospitals.”
Will offer Grow Connecticut recommendations
The 12-member Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development, which includes Jamie Jones of Jones Family Farms in Shelton as a member, is looking for the working groups to finalize recommendations to bring before Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in areas concerning the development, diversification, and promotion of agricultural products throughout the state.
“Over the past year and a half, the Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development has gathered input from hundreds of stakeholders from across the state to steer its Grow Connecticut Farms strategic plan,” said Reviczky, who serves as council chairman.
“Moving forward, the council is relying on its working groups for additional information from stakeholders with experience and expertise in specific areas of agriculture,” he continued. “The knowledge these individuals have amassed and are sharing with the council is profound, and it contributes tremendous value and validity to the council’s work. I thank Fred for participating in this process and offering his time, energy and input.”
Began the Shelton farm in 1998
For Fred and Stacia Monahan, growing real food for real people is not just a business, but a true passion, according to their website.
The Monahans grow 50 acres of vegetables annually and raise poultry, pork and beef at Stone Gardens Farm, 83 Saw Mill City Road, Shelton.
The couple founded the farm in 1998, after expanding from a roadside vegetable stand where they sold vegetables and flowers at Shelton’s Dairy on Birdseye Road in Shelton. The couple steadily grew their business, planting more varieties of vegetables on mostly leased land.
Stone Gardens also operates a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, where customers pay for a share of the farm’s produce harvest at the beginning of the year in exchange for a weekly box of veggies throughout the growing season.
Some of the vegetables grown on the farm are beets, bok choy, carrots, eggplant, garlic, greens, peppers, potatoes, radishes, squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips and winter squash.
The Stone Gardens Farm stand is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May to Thanksgiving. For information on Stone Gardens Farm, go to www.stonegardensfarm.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.