story & photos
by Steve Winakor
Once a turn-of-the-century dairy farm, Ashlawn Farms transformed into a thriving staple of the community. Nestled amongst the rolling hills, hickory trees and old stone walls of Lyme lies one of the the area’s least known treasures. What became a fixture of the town’s social network also rooted itself in the chatter of far, far away.
In its early days, Ashlawn Farms was a run-of-the-mill dairy farm. Started in 1909 with the help of owners Ray and Helen Harding, the farm flourished for many years. As time passed and the hardworking Hardings finally aged to a point when they couldn’t run the farm any longer, responsibility was passed on to their oldest child, Sam Harding.
Sam and his wife, Peggy, worked the farm, as his parents did, until his wife’s death.With advances in equipment and expenses rising, Sam saw hard times ahead. Having little to no income, Sam was at wits end on what would become of his childhood home.
In 1996, Sam’s nephew Chip Dahlke, with a little help from his family, purchased the farm, saving it from being lost. Chip with his wife, Carol, and children lived at Ashlawn Farms with Sam until 2001 when Sam died of complications from pneumonia.
Chip and his wife, both with professional backgrounds, used their Yankee ingenuity to once again breathe life into the lifeless farm. Part of the farm is converted into a coffee roastery. Here you can stop in to greet Carol and enjoy one of the freshest brewed cups of java in the area. Also on the farm, where milk cattle once roamed, are about 40 head of beef steer managed by an associate of Chip’s.
Not stopping there, Chip and Carol host a Farmers’ Market on the property. At the market, one can easily find Chip mingling with any one of the 20 or so local vendors that sell their “homegrown creations.” Whatever your liking, from fresh produce to pet supplies or even a fresh cup of coffee, visiting the Farmers’ Market at Ashlawn Farms of Lyme is time well spent. Open from June-October, Fridays, 1-6pm and Saturdays, 9:30am-1pm. Visit www.farmcoffee.com for more information.