Female Farmer Hopes To “KickStart” Her Expansion

By Ann Baldelli
The Day, New London, Conn.

NORTH STONINGTON

Brianne Casadei says asking for help, never mind money, is totally out of character for her, but she believes so passionately in her latest endeavor — adding a dairy to Terra Firma Farm — that she’s shamelessly promoting a Kickstarter campaign aimed at raising $47,970 towards the project.

“I never ask for help. I’m headstrong. Determined. Straightforward,” said the 35-year-old Casadei, who is better known around town as Farmer Brie and the force behind the community and educational Terra Firma Farm that she started 11 years ago on Al Harvey Road in Stonington.

Seven months ago, Casadei expanded her operation by leasing an additional 500 acres on the Norwich-Westerly Road, where she’s planning the dairy operation. But midway into the effort, she realized she didn’t have all the capital she needed to get the milk-making operation running.

“We got to a point where we invested a lot of money and I thought, ‘We can’t afford all this equipment on our own,'” she said.

A single mother of two young children, Casadei said her extended family has supported her efforts and backed her. But after retrofitting an old dairy barn on the former Oldhaven Farm to make it into a creamery and retail store, she turned to Kickstarter to raise additional money to finish interior work, buy six more heifers for the milking herd, and to acquire a bulk tank, bucket milking system and other apparatus needed to officially open the micro-dairy at Terra Firma Farm at Oldhaven. (A micro-dairy is a milking operation with fewer than 10 cows.)

Kickstarter contributions are only paid out if a campaign reaches its goal. With the few days to go, “the milk moovement” for Terra Firma Farm had pledges of $10 to $2,000 totaling $29,081 by late Tuesday afternoon. The campaign will expire at 7:43 p.m. Saturday and Casadei was optimistic she will meet the payout threshold.

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