DOAG: SIGNIFICANT PARCEL OF FARMLAND PRESERVED IN ROCKY HILL



April 25, 2018


HINTZ FARM CONSERVATION EASEMENT PERMANENTLY PROTECTS FARMLAND

The Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation

 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) has preserved a significant parcel of farmland in Rocky Hill.

Approximately 70 acres of farmland at the Hintz Farm was preserved through the placement of a permanent conservation easement recorded on land records at Rocky Hill town hall on January 26, 2018.

The Hintz Farm was historically a dairy farm, providing milk to the greater Hartford area in the 1950s and 1960s. The farm currently consists of a series of managed hayfields, with plans for free range chickens and beef cattle.

Preservation efforts began in 2005 when the town of Rocky Hill developed a plan for farmland and open space preservation which targeted several large farms including the Hintz Farm.

When the Hintz Farm was advertised for sale in 2008 the town began discussions with the Hintz family regarding preservation of the farm.

In 2015, DoAg entered into an agreement with the town of Rocky Hill and the Hintz family for the purchase of the development rights (PDR) to maintain and preserve the agricultural land for farming and food production.

DoAg utilized funding available through the Connecticut Farmland Preservation Program and the Community Farms Preservation Program (CFPP) for the Hintz Farm PDR.

Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said partnerships with farm families and municipalities are essential to preservation of farmland in Connecticut.

“The preservation of large parcels of farmland in this part of the Connecticut River Valley, like the Hintz Farm, is a once in a lifetime opportunity that would not be possible without the participation of a willing farm family and municipal leaders,” Reviczky said.

DoAg also partnered with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which contributed through its Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

Ray Carpentino, the town of Rocky Hill's economic development director, said farms and farming are a large part of the history and character of the town and contribute to the overall community in many ways.

“Preservation and support of agricultural lands and activities are important aspects of encouraging a more livable community and a sustainable future,” said Carpentino. “Hintz Farm is a key component in our continued effort to preserve our agricultural lands for future generations.”

The Hintz Farm is adjacent to two large parcels of town-owned land designated as open space by the town of Rocky Hill—a 20-acre parcel north of the farm known as France Street Open Space and a 51.3-acre parcel of forestland west of the farm which was purchased by the town in 2003 with financial assistance provided by the state’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program.

“In addition to being one of the last large parcels of farmland, Hintz Farm is contiguous on the north and west sides by 71 acres of town of Rocky Hill open space land, which in turn is more or less contiguous to over 300 acres of active farmland,” said Carpentino.

Rocky Hill Mayor Claudia Baio said the town is commitment to preserving agricultural lands.

The town of Rocky Hill contributed to the project through funds made available through a bond referendum passed in 2012, for the acquisition of development rights and/or for the outright purchase of agricultural properties and passive open space properties.

“Since the bond passage, the town has purchased, on its own, the development rights to 113 acres of farmland,” said Baio.

In 2014, the town of Rocky Hill used the open space and farmland bond funds to purchase the development rights of the 44-acre Hayes Farm. The development rights to the Hayes Farm were the first to be purchased using the funds authorized by the referendum.

The Hintz Farm is the first in Rocky Hill to have an agricultural conservation easement funded through a combination of the DoAg Farmland Preservation Program, the NRCS ACEP, and the town’s open space and farmland bond funds.

Other nearby farms that were recently protected through a partnership between DoAg and the NRCS include the 48-acre Phoenix Farm in Cromwell (2015) and the 82-acre Blaque Farm on the Connecticut River in Portland (2016).

Several other Rocky Hill farms are pursuing conservation easements through collaboration with DoAg and the NRCS.

Preservation of the Hintz Farm would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Hintz family. Arthur Hintz said the family didn’t want to see the land developed for housing. “We wanted to see it as open space,” says Arthur.

Arthur Hintz moved to the farm from California in 1963. His grandparents purchased the land in 1929. The Hintz family operated a dairy farm on the land until the mid-1960s when they transitioned to a beef operation. Currently Arthur produces about 2,000 bales of hay from the farm each year.

The Connecticut Farmland Preservation Program purchases the development rights of qualified farms to preserve prime and statewide important farmland soils. The collective goal for the State is to preserve 130,000 acres of farmland, with 85,000 in cropland.