The Farmer’s Cow Calfé and Creamery, located at 86 Storrs Road, is the hidden gem of the Mansfield area. The storefront features the Farmer’s Cow’s dairy products and partners with local farmers to bring fresh Connecticut crops to their menu, including sandwiches, wraps, hot paninis, soups and salads.
If you’ve ever seen the Farmer’s Cow logo in your grocery store throughout New England, you have looked at a central part of Connecticut’s dairy farming. Farmer’s Cow is a group of six Connecticut family-owned dairy farms that began selling dairy products in stores as a united brand in 2005. They aim to teach the public about dairy farming while connecting their community to the land.
After expanding across New England in 2011, the Farmer’s Cow created a central location to sell their dairy products but also work with the community to bring farm-to-table meals. Promotion of the cafe originally spread through word of mouth recommendations from the local community. However, they began an active marketing campaign starting in 2019 when the FC Development Corporation was hired.
“It’s a partnership with the Farmer’s Cow group,” Steve Lane, chief development officer of the FC Development Corp said over a virtual interview. “They have the desire to build out the restaurant side of the business … then, that’s where we came in 2019, and our goal is to help them expand the restaurant.”
After spending the past few years bringing the company and brand up to date with modern trends, the restaurant looks to expand into further locations in Connecticut, like Avon and Waterford. In the future, the restaurant hopes to expand with locations all over New England and further out west.
The company recently went a public investing route to generate funds and gain investors in their company for the expansion.
“We have been raising money in different ways, but we wanted to have an opportunity to really bring in everybody, so we opted to use WeFunder…We are focused on being a very community-driven organization always, and in this early stage, this is a unique way for everybody to get in on the ground floor.” Lane said. “[Crowdfunding] is scheduled to close at the end of this month, on April 30th. We likely won’t open up another public fundraising effort beyond that point…Realistically, this will be the one time that the entire community can come in on a large scale, since the minimum investment is only $250.”
The restaurant is also considering partnerships with local high schools and nearby universities to continue their efforts to engage and educate the local community on healthy farming.
“Going back to this community aspect, we believe that wherever our locations are, the surrounding high schools and colleges are likely going to have involvement in some capacity,” Lane said. “The Farmer’s Cow has a vision for how education can be integral to the overall health and sustainability of our communities and is excited to engage in a wide variety of educational opportunities as our services expand across the region, the state and beyond.”
They hope to create an educational program that would specifically highlight the diverse aspects of the company.
“We plan to partner with local schools, non-profit organizations and universities to provide educational programming that ranges from STEM explorations in sustainable farming and land use to growing career and technical education pathways in agriculture, service, logistics and entrepreneurialism to supporting health and wellness learning relating to connections with our food, animals and the natural world.”
Despite the restaurant’s engagement plans still being in the concept phase, local students are already involved through employment. UConn students Melanie Winuk and Carolyn Sutton work as social media interns for the Farmer’s Cow.
“I have had such a great experience working for the Farmer’s Cow Calfe and Creamery,” Winuk, a fourth-semester marketing major. “It’s a great environment and the people who work there have been so kind to me throughout my time working there.”
Through their experiences, Winuk and Carolyn believe the Farmer’s Cow’s new phase would be beneficial to college students, especially those seeking job opportunities and hands-on work experience in the agricultural or business field.
“Expansion could definitely impact UConn students because we can see firsthand a local restaurant gaining traction in the industry, and be proud to support a restaurant so close to our campus,” Sutton, a second-semester English and marketing major, said.