Stone Gardens Transforms Store Into Community Farm MarketJun 30, 2023 11:00AM ● By Ariana Rawls Fine
Since 1998, Fred and Stacia Monahan have farmed the area known as Stone Gardens Farm in Shelton. What first began as selling vegetables produced on leased land has increased exponentially to include growing vegetables on 50 acres of land and raising grass-fed cattle, poultry and pigs for beef, chicken and pork meat sales directly to customers, including CSAs for those in the Fairfield County and New Haven County areas. When the doors of Common Bond Market in Huntington Center suddenly closed in March, the Monahans opened the location’s doors again as a farm and health food store to expand their offerings.
“As a farm, we have been looking to expand our retail area for the last couple years,” says Stacia Monahan. “We were a 100 percent destination store, and it was one of our biggest limitations to expanding in the farm’s current location.”
The Monahans explored options in the area, including increasing the amount of land they currently have, but zoning became an issue in regard to having the retail farm store there. When Common Bond Market’s former store became available, the Monahans explored and embraced the opportunity to turn their farm stand into a farm store well-situated in a central location. That dream became a reality at the beginning of June. The Monahans secured the lease, negotiated the purchase of the market’s equipment, coordinated improvements and installed a new system, working with many of Common Bond Market’s employees and the former owner as well as Bill Purcell, the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce’s president and CEO.
Stone Garden Market will continue to offer the health supplements, prepared food and other products that the previous store had offered customers. “This will be a farm stand meets health food store meets grocery store,” Stacia Monahan states excitedly. “Our goal is to make the store as inclusive as possible. Whatever your dietary needs, we can service you. Anything from Doritos to dairy-free, nut-free, grain-free, from vegan to meat.”
Some of the changes include a farm stand customer service desk related to Stone Gardens Farm’s offerings, including information on different meat bundles, questions about the farm, meat CSAs and prepaid item pickups, and more. The store will have grab-n-go meals as well as a hot food section for lunch and early dinner time.
“Another thing we are doing is expanding the produce section. We had new produce tables built by a man who went to school with our oldest son. The farm stand is made by the same person with local wood. We also worked with a local sawmill. It’s about local resources,” Stacia Monahan explains. “Just to name a few sources from other Connecticut and New York farms—and they are many others—we are getting peaches from Beardsley, herbs and micro-greens from Gilbertie’s Organics, produce from Cecarellis Harrison Hill Farm in Northford, garlic and onions from These Things Take Thyme in Shelton, pie shells from Oronoque Farms for pot pies and quiches, and lamb from Sepe Farms in Sandy Hook. At Stone Gardens, we also grow our own sweet corn, tomatoes and other produce.”
Stacia Monahan is especially grateful that over half of Common Bond Market’s former employees will return to work for the store, including three managers. “Diana will remain as our new kitchen manager. We brought Angus on immediately to continue as the store manager and Theresa as the grocery manager,” she says. Nearly a dozen of Stone Garden’s employees will also transfer to the Huntington Center location.
Their oldest, Tommy, is USDA-certified in meat cutting and serves as the butcher for the farm. Their middle son Billy, a welder, helps fix the farm equipment while their teenage daughter Sophie contributes with animal feedings, flower growing and sales, and vegetable planting and harvesting. And the employees at the farm are all connected through family and friends. The family, friends, employees and community are invested in Stone Gardens and the expansion.
40 Huntington St, Shelton, CT. The store hours are Monday through Saturday from 8am to 7pm, and Sundays from 8am to 4pm.Connect at StoneGardensFarm.com.