Tag Archives: Connecticut

Growing Agriculture in the Provision State

Did you know that Connecticut was coined the “Provision State” by George Washington for the important role the state’s productive farms played in feeding the troops for the American Revolution?

Connecticut Valley farm and barnAgriculture is growing and changing in Connecticut again, with a need to reclaim pastures and cropland while rebuilding agricultural infrastructure. To help meet this need and boost the job creating activities associated with agriculture, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture will soon launch a new Farmland Restoration Program. Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky credits Governor Malloy for promoting the restoration provision, noting in his travels the number of overgrown fields were there were once productive farms.

In many parts of the state, there is great competition for the best farmland and little opportunity for beginning farmers to access land. The new program will help farmers and landowners restore private, state, municipal and land trust lands back into agricultural production. Up to $20,000 per project will be available (with a match required) to implement a number of different restoration and conservation practices. The restoration plan will be developed in consultation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Connecticut Conservation District Specialists, with federal funds being leveraged for some of the conservation practices. Potential activities funded by the new program include the removal of invasive plants and brush, installation of fencing for reclamation areas to protect crops and wetlands, the renovation of farm ponds and the planting of streamside buffers.

The Farmland Restoration Program is expected to increase the acreage of farmland available to help new and existing farmers grow their businesses, thus creating jobs and providing fresh local products to meet growing consumer demands so the state can once again reclaim its name as “The Provision State.”

Details about the program and application materials are available at the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s website, www.CTGrown.gov (click on “Programs and Services”), or by calling 860-713-2511.

Kip Kolesinkskas, American Farmland Trust About the Author: Kip Kolesinskas is a consulting Conservation Scientist for the New England Office of American Farmland Trust.  For 20 years, he served as USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service State Soil Scientist for Connecticut and Rhode Island.

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Protecting Farmland, One Scoop at a Time

Few things celebrate summer more than a bowl of ice cream. And what better way to enjoy the tasty treat than go straight to the source for Sundaes on the Farm?

On Sunday, August 21, Graywall Farms and the Farmer’s Cow hosted a special event to raise awareness about the need to save Connecticut’s most valuable and vulnerable resource: our farmland. The event drew 120 supporters and raised $4,500 to support the ongoing work of the Working Lands Alliance, a project of American Farmland Trust.

Our farms and farmland provide much more than the sweet ingredients for a creamy summer treat. Agriculture in Connecticut is essential for a healthy economy, a healthy environment and the preservation of the state’s rich history and culture. But sadly, like much of the nation, Connecticut has seen a rapid loss of farmland due to rising development, with approximately 85 percent of Connecticut’s farmland unprotected.

Sundae on the Farm featured Connecticut fresh ice cream, horse-drawn wagon rides, locally grown roasted sweet corn, and bluegrass music. The event also highlighted the rich history and contributions of agriculture and other rural livelihoods in Connecticut. Not only was it an excellent way for families to have a great day out and enjoy the best of the state, but it also gave attendees the opportunity to support the state’s leading advocacy group for farmland preservation.

The event was a collaborative effort between the Farmer’s Cow and the Working Lands Alliance. Behind the mission “Local is Fresh,” the Farmer’s Cow is a group of six Connecticut dairy farms that produce fresh, local dairy products (including ice cream) for southern New England. The Farmer’s Cow products are pasteurized the “traditional way” and are never ultra-pasteurized. The group also sells Connecticut-sourced all-natural eggs, apple cider and seasonal beverages. The Working Lands Alliance, a project of American Farmland Trust, is a statewide coalition of individuals and more than 200 organizations and businesses working together to help save Connecticut’s valuable and vanishing farmland.

Facts about Connecticut Farms and Farmland

  • Connecticut’s prime farmland is some of the most productive land in the world.
  • There are 321,393 acres of cropland, pasture and woodland on Connecticut’s 4,916 farms.
  • The state has 163,686 acres of cropland, 32,832 acres of pasture and 124,875 acres of farm woodland.
  • Connecticut has 862,822 acres of “prime and important soils”—that’s 27 percent of all state land—which have the potential to be used for agriculture.
  • Sixty-four percent of Connecticut’s farms are fewer than 50 acres.

Working Lands Alliance was grateful to have the incredible support of our sponsors, including Farm Credit East, Jones Family Farms, T.W. Henry Real Estate and Appraisals, CME Engineering, Rockville Bank, and Cooper Whitney Cochran and Francois Attorneys of New Haven. We were also delighted to serve ice cream from the Farmer’s Cow, and roasted sweet corn from Cushman Farm. Prizes from Chestnut Hill Nursery were auctioned off along with Elisha Cooper’s award winning book Farm. Events like these help not only to raise money but also to raise awareness about the need and importance of working together to save farmland in the state. They also demonstrate the deep-seeded support from the community for local agriculture. All in all, Sundae on the Farm was the cherry on top of the many ongoing efforts to protect a viable future for agriculture in Connecticut.

Leah Mayor, Working Lands Alliance Director and New England Project Manager, works on on policy, outreach, and education about the importance of farmland protection in Connecticut and the Northeast.

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