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Walpole’s New Farmer-Owned Diner

Susan Laughlin

It doesn’t get much more local than this. The Hungry Diner is an extension of Walpole Valley Farms.

Local sourcing is all the rage for restaurants of every stripe, from fancy to fun-loving. But — there is always a but — are they continually working with local farms, is the relationship more than words on a blackboard and is the impact significant on the menu? These were all questions farmers Chris and Caitlin Caserta asked themselves.

The Casertas operate Walpole Valley Farms in the lovely rolling and lush hills just south of the classic New England town of Walpole. Chris’ sister, Jackie, runs the nearby Inn at Valley Farms, an operation I wrote about when her now-teenage daughter was just learning to walk. The grandparents, who own all the land, are nestled in a picturesque farmhouse nearby. The whole family operation — with gorgeous barns, working farmland and a viable business — is almost too beautiful for words, but there is a good story to try and tell.

For the last 12 or so years, Chris and Caitlin have been using the land for grazing beef cattle, hogs and chickens for eggs and meat. The onsite farm store is open on weekends, offering select steak cuts, sausage, bacon, pork chops, fresh eggs and even grandmother Bonnie’s jams and jellies.

The couple wanted to offer food in some form on the farm — maybe a full-time farmstand with burgers and hotdogs. When a former ice cream stand location became available, plans changed, and a new round of research was undertaken.

The Casertas are both strong disciples of Joel Salatin, the subject of Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” who envisioned an eatery that was based in sustainable food sources with reduced impact on the Earth’s resources.

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