Ice-cream, fresh flowers and produce, local honey, freshly baked pies, quality meat and fish, and more can be found at Dzen’s Garden Market in Ellington, Connecticut. Pick-your-own berry fields are just down the road. The Market, according to brothers Joe and Donny Dzen, “is a great place to get the freshest produce in the area.” In addition to the produce, they sell raw wildflower honey from an apiary which places their hives on the Dzen farm to pollinate the fruit and pumpkin crops. “It’s very popular and effective in controlling spring allergies,” says Joe. The Market also offers freshly baked Granny’s Pies, and quality meats and fish from near-by Bogner’s Meats. Milk, bread and eggs round out the shopping experience.
The soft serve ice-cream stand at the Market offers over 40 flavors, including cheesecake, maple nut, German chocolate, amaretto, rum, and various fruit flavors. Toppings made from fresh berries in season are available along with the standard embellishments. You can also indulge in milk shakes and sundaes all summer long!
The produce market opened in early June with the ripening of the strawberries. In addition to customers picking their own berries, the fruit is purchased by other local farms for their stands, and Dzen’s has proudly provided the berries for the South Windsor Strawberry Festival since it began over 30 years ago. When strawberry season winds down, blueberry season begins in July and runs into mid-August. Every year, “thousands of families and friends from New Jersey to Maine and everyone in between head down to the Dzen Blueberry Hill fields to pick their own berries. For many, it’s a summer tradition, and for our family, it’s a source of pride watching everyone enjoy our plentiful harvests…” say the brothers.
The Dzen family business was founded in the 1930’s by Steven and Mary Dzen, followed by son Donald Dzen. Now, Donald’s sons Joe and Donny have become third generation farmers, and together they oversee the farm’s various enterprises. Don is primarily responsible for the farm, while Joe is primarily responsible for the store. They work together during the busy seasons, which opens with growing and selling flowers for Easter and runs through to Christmas with their tree farm.
The original farm grew potatoes and tobacco, and raised dairy cows. They began growing strawberries and Christmas trees in the 1970’s and added the blueberry fields around 1980. The Garden Market opened in 1998, and the family began growing their own greenhouse flowers a few years later. Phew…sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Just how much land is farmed to provide all of this bounty? The family owns 300 acres and leases an additional 200 acres. They use 25 acres for their strawberries, 15 acres for blueberries, 200 acres for pumpkins in the fall, and over 100 acres for Christmas trees, for starters. The 10,000 sf greenhouse provides bedding and vegetable plants, herbs, mixed planters, deck pots, hanging baskets, and flowers used for custom gift baskets. The brothers say they are well known for their beautiful geraniums. They are assisted by about 20 seasonal employees at the store, and 20 full and part-time employees on the farm itself.
The farm offers wholesale pumpkins in the fall, which they sell both locally and deliver throughout the East coast. In addition to sugar pumpkins and “face pumpkins,” they also grow ornamental gourds, munchkins, and squash.
When the Christmas season rolls around, many families head to one of the Dzen tree farms to cut their own tree. The farms are located in East Windsor, South Windsor, and Ellington, and you can choose from four different varieties of firs and spruces.
During the off-season, much time is spent selecting the variety and color of plants to be offered the following year, as well as tending to the many details of running the successful business. After all is said and done, the brothers say the hardest part of the business is the uncertainty of things beyond their control, such as the weather. On the plus side, they both enjoy working together and all the time spent outdoors. They take pride in growing high quality farm products for the community, and are excited to see their children taking an interest in the family business. They hope to welcome a 4th generation to the Dzen family farm!
DZEN GARDEN MARKET IS LOCATED AT 187 WINDSORVILLE ROAD IN ELLINGTON, CT