Young farmer transforming Shelton dairy farm into vegetable farm
Randy Rogowski is taking his old family farm in a new direction in Shelton.
Rogowski, 22, inherited Laurel Glen Farm in December 2011 when his great uncle, Peter Rogowski, died. Laurel Glen has been in the Rogowski family since the early 1900s, and survived as a dairy farm until the late 1970s.
The farm once was 100 acres but has been parceled off during the last few decades, and now only six acres remain.
“I’m sad that the farm isn’t as big as it once was, but I don’t want to see the remainder of the farm disappear,” Rogowski said.
A new direction
Though Rogowski recognizes that it would be nearly impossible to operate as an independent dairy farm with such a small amount of acreage, the young farmer sees great potential for the land that remains.
He is in the process of transforming the old dairy farm into a vegetable farm. “The amount of vegetables that you can grow on six acres is unbelievable,” he said.
Rogowski has spent a great deal of time mapping out his fields to determine how he can maximize the amount of rows to plow and seeds to plant.
The young farmer will begin a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program this summer and plans to open a small farmstand on his property with the remaining produce.
A CSA program allows members to buy shares in the farm prior to the growing season in exchange for a weekly offering of the vegetables that the farm harvests each week.
Rogowski said choosing to begin a CSA was an obvious decision for him because the arrangement allows for a strong sense of community.
“The shareholders will get to know their farmers and build a relationship with us,” he said. “Ultimately, I want them to feel connected to the farm.”
Rogowski has always been connected to Laurel Glen. He has grown a field of vegetables every year since he was a child, with the assistance of his grandfather, Alex Rogowski, who grew up on Laurel Glen Farm.
In addition to the help Rogowski is obtaining from family members with farming experience, he is being mentored by Fred and Stacia Monahan of Stone Gardens Farm in Shelton.
The Monahans run their own CSA and are sharing their tips with Rogowski on how to manage a successful vegetable farm.
Fred Monahan has been helping Rogowski determine which varieties of vegetables to grow and when to plant the seed.
CSA program specifics
Though he has big dreams of running the farm full time in the future, Rogowski plans to start small this year. His 16-week CSA will span from June through September. Shareholders can purchase either a full-share or half-share, depending on their produce needs.
Rogowski encourages potential customers to contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 203-305-9179. He also encourages “locavores” (people interested in eating locally-grown food) to stop into his farmstand, which will open at 247 Waverly Road this summer.