March 22, 2017


The following remarks were given by Dr. James LaMondia of the

 Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station during last week’s

Agriculture Day  at the Capitol announcement of Connecticut’s

Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year:    


Connecticut’s agriculture industry grows great crops, including the next generation of farmers. 


Arthur Spielman IV of Spielman Farm, LLC in Baltic, has been chosen as Connecticut’s Outstanding Young Farmer of 2017. 


The Outstanding Young Farmer Award is given annually by the Connecticut Agricultural Information Council (CAIC), as part of the festivities surrounding Connecticut Agriculture Day at the State Capitol.


Candidates are selected based on their achievements in their agricultural enterprises, involvement in the agriculture industry and their community, and their work on soil and water conservation projects. 


Arthur’s first job, at the ripe old age of 8, was feeding calves on his family’s multi-generation dairy farm. Each year saw added responsibilities and in 12th grade, a herd production issue prompted Art to seek out an independent study project for his agri-science class. 


He selected a mentor who would meet with him twice weekly and work through specific issues to improve herd health and production. This initiative led him to a position as the farm’s herd manager, overseeing 300 cows and heifers. 


When the herd was doing well, Arthur turned his focus toward the cropping program with the goal of making similar improvements. He trained a herd manager to take over those duties and assumed the new crop responsibilities, which included management and logistics for their 3-chopper custom-cropping operation.


The next challenge was to take the entire farm forward, and Arthur realized a general manager was needed.  He presented his vision and its benefits at a family business meeting, and he was appointed General Manager in 2009.


Arthur’s goals have changed along with his growth.  Originally they were production-oriented, but upon becoming General Manager, he understood the need to focus on financial success and to be a good businessman.


To better manage the 1,400-acre, 575-cow operation, he utilizes an advisory team, facilitates meetings of the ownership and family to continue good communication, and actively works with the family to secure the long-term availability of their land base.


He also leads with a vision of environmental sustainability, practicing no-till corn planting and using an innovative radish-clover-rye-hairy vetch cover crop, and

including wheat in his crop rotations.


He also has utilized NRCS expertise to build facilities that prevent runoff from silage as well as composting.  All of these activities further the Spielman Farm mission of providing stewardship to the land for the next generation.

            The purpose of the Outstanding Young Farmers program is to bring about a greater interest in the farmer to foster better urban-rural relations through the understanding of the farmers’ endeavors, to develop a further appreciation for their contributions and achievements, and to inform the agribusiness community of the growing awareness of the farmers’ importance and impact on America’s economy.


The state winner will be invited to compete nationally in the National Outstanding Young Farmers Program, which is sponsored nationally by John Deere. 


Connecticut’s Outstanding Young Farmers have a history of winning:  Joe DeFrancesco of Farmer Joe’s Gardens, LLC and Joe Geremia of Geremia Greenhouses,  of Wallingford, have been national winners.


Jamie Jones of Jones Family Farm in Shelton, Russell Holmberg of Holmberg Orchards in Gales Ferry and Matt Peckham of Elm Farm in Woodstock have also been

national finalists.


Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said Spielman and the other recent winners, including 2016 winner Bruce Gresczyk, Jr., are leaders in their respective disciplines, and exemplify the strength and diversity of Connecticut agriculture moving forward.


“The Spielman family has a rich tradition of farming in Connecticut,” Reviczky said. “The faith and trust they placed in Arthur IV proved correct, and the honor of being named Connecticut’s Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year is well-deserved.” 


The following remarks were given by Dr. James

LaMondia of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station during last week’s Agriculture Day at the Capitol announcement of Connecticut’s Century Farm Award:


The Century Farm Award is selected by the Connecticut Agricultural Information Council and awarded to a Connecticut farm in operation for more than 100 years.


The 2016 award was presented last August at the CT Agricultural Experiment Station’s annual Plant Science Day to Norman Hill Farm of Thompson


The farm was founded in 1910 by Carl A. Norman, who emigrated from Sweden in 1900, and initially sold vegetables, eggs, and butter. He gradually increased the dairy herd and poultry flock, and built three greenhouses to increase vegetable production.


One of Carl’s sons, Oscar Norman, bought the farm from his mother in 1943 after the death of his father, continuing with the same farm enterprises. Poultry was dropped in 1958 and the last commercial vegetable crop was greenhouse tomatoes in 1980.


Oscar and his wife Elizabeth were involved with many organizations including the Killingly Regional Vocational Agricultural Consulting Committee, The New England Vegetable Growers Association, The Connecticut Farm Bureau, 4H, and the Woodstock Green Thumbs Garden Club.


Roy and Earl Norman, Oscar’s sons, and the third generation on the farm, bought the farm in 1976. They each built homes on the farm and now operate strictly as a dairy farm.


Currently, Roy and Earl have a 100-cow freestall barn for the milking herd and a 120-cow freestall barn for dry cows and 3 different age groups of heifers.


They also produce grass and corn for hay and silage feed. Roy and Earl are members of The Connecticut Farm Bureau, and Roy is very involved with the Fellowship of Christian Farmers Association.


Earl serves on the Thompson Agricultural Commission and the New England Dairy Promotion Board. The farm received the Albert R. Todd Conservation Award for improvements in conservation and pollution control practices.


Members of the fourth generation of Normans continue to work on the farm and a member of the fifth generation recently joined the Happy Herdsmen 4H Dairy Club, the same club that their grandfather Earl belonged to over 50 years ago.



            The Connecticut Agricultural Information Council announced its 2016 Ag Journalism Awards at last week’s Ag Day at the Capitol: 


· Steve Jensen/CT Weekly Agricultural Report: “Throwback Organic Farmer Succeeding with Cutting- Edge Growing Techniques in Lebanon,” describing innovative techniques utilized by organic farmer Bryan O’Hara, such as introducing soil-enriching and hydrating forest microbes into his crop fields. Bryan’s ingenuity pays off because his techniques allow him to harvest crops year-round under low tunnel protection. He avoids pesticides by utilizing items in nature to strengthen plants and harden them against invasives.


· Quinn Eurich/Countryside Network: “Local Students Connect with Farm Life by Adopting Chickens,” regarding a creative program run by Strong Family Farm in Vernon that educates young and old about raising and caring for chickens in a true family farm environment.


· Amy White/Go Local Magazine: “Udderly Fresh: Dairy from Smyth’s Trinity Farm,” describing the history of Smyth’s Trinity Farm in Enfield, a third generation dairy farm that embodies the spirit of the farm-to-table movement.


· Jim Altman and photographer Josh Hartmann/Fox 61: “Roses for Autism Bottling Success with Some Help from Adults,” detailing a vocational training program for adults who grow, cut and packages flowers and roses in one of the largest greenhouses in Connecticut, located at Pinchbeck Farm in Guilford.


· John Charlton and photographer Jesse Burkett Hall/Fox 61: “The Vanishing Colonies of Honey Bees,” describing the vital role of honey bees in the food chain and how tenuous their existence is based on the number of colony collapses.