The Taste of Mansfield and community partners the Mansfield Agriculture Committee and Economic Development Commission have selected the recipients of the first-ever Taste of Mansfield Champion Awards.
The Taste of Mansfield Champion Awards program was initiated to recognize Mansfield producers, sellers, and communicators/educators who are leaders in connecting the community through local food and have a demonstrated record of promoting the Taste of Mansfield mission. The public was invited to nominate potential champions based on the following criteria:
- Sells or serves local food or an agricultural product with a focus on Mansfield farms and farm stands,
- Educates customers/clients about where local food comes from through various media,
- Acts as a leader and advocate for promoting local food
The 2022 Taste of Mansfield Champion Award Winners are:
- Diane Dorfer, Cobblestone Farm, Mansfield Center
- Stephanie Deason, Food Service Director, Mansfield Public Schools and Edwin O. Smith High School
- Tri-County Greenhouse, Mansfield Depot
Diane Dorfer has farmed in Mansfield since 2015, and operates a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) featuring a diverse selection of sustainably grown produce. Diane served as the Market Master of the Storrs Farmers Market for several seasons, and sells her produce there each week. Supporters for Diane’s nomination said, “Her passion to support and educate the larger community is revealed in her participation in the Farm to Table initiative and her past role as the market master for the Storrs Farmers Market.” Additionally, her services in educating the community was acknowledged including offering “community tours of local chicken coops as a way of encouraging animal husbandry and the production of local eggs. Her CSA also has an annual kids potato harvest.” Cobblestone Farm is a strong supporter of the Mansfield Farms to Families program offering a variety of fresh produce.
Stephanie Deason, MS, RD, has served as the Food Service Director for the Mansfield Public Schools and Edwin O. Smith High School for six years. Valuing her strong relationships with local farmers, Stephanie’s school meals program regularly features locally grown fruits such as apples and vegetables. She purchases fresh, local vegetables in season each summer and processes them to be included in meals through the winter months, making special notation of them on the menu. She and her staff are responsible for serving 2,750 meals per week in five schools. Stephanie’s recipe for local kale-zucchini bread was featured in School Nutrition, a national magazine, last spring. She is an outspoken advocate for improving delivery of local foods to schools, speaking on panels across the state and testifying before the state legislature to elicit support for farm to school programs. In her nomination, supporters included that, “Before the pandemic she organized free Taste of Mansfield community dinners where residents not only get to eat local food but learn about the farmers in their neighborhoods.” Stephanie relishes the opportunity to teach students and school staff about good nutrition and the value of local foods, whether in the cafeteria line or in the classroom.
Tri-County Greenhouse, originally known as Hockanum Greenhouse when it was founded in 1982, is a non-profit greenhouse in Mansfield Depot that provides training and employment to adults with intellectual disabilities. Director Chris Campbell and his staff cultivate unique annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs. Its nomination noted, “Tri-county Greenhouse is a Taste of Mansfield Champion because they are (and have consistently been!) great supporters of backyard/home gardening. They have wonderful, healthy starter vegetables (that they will NOT sell until the weather is conducive!), and offer a wealth of knowledge.” Celebrating its 40th year in the community, Tri-County Greenhouse is indeed a source for the novice or expert gardener seeking to grow local at home.
The three winners attended the May 23 Town Council meeting to receive public recognition.
ABOUT TASTE OF MANSFIELD
The Taste of Mansfield aims to strengthen our community through events and promotions highlighting locally grown and produced foods.
Taste of Mansfield is made possible by these community partners:
Mansfield Advocates for Children
Mansfield Agriculture Committee
Mansfield Downtown Partnership
Mansfield Department of Human Services
Mansfield Economic Development Commission
Mansfield Parks and Recreation
Mansfield Public Library
Mansfield Public Schools
Mansfield Senior Center
Storrs Farmers Market
UConn CAHNR Extension