September 12, 2018


Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) recently helped ensure that five Connecticut farms will remain in agricultural use in perpetuity.

Recent closings on the Butler Farm in New Hartford, the Polek Family Farm in Enfield, the Shepard Farm in South Windsor, Cheetham White Oak Farm in Stonington, and the Spalding Farm in Woodstock brings the total number of farms preserved by DoAg in 2018 to nine. Preservation was made possible through the purchase of development rights (PDR) for these farmlands.

PDR involves placing a permanent restriction on the deed of a property that limits its use to agriculture only. The farm remains in private ownership and continues to pay property taxes. The program is voluntary and gives farmers a realistic alternative to selling off their land for residential, industrial, or other commercial development.

The development rights of two parcels of the Shepard Farm were purchased and deed recorded on July 26, 2018 in the town of South Windsor.  Both parcels, one 53 acres and the other 48 acres, consist of Connecticut River Valley soils, which are classified as prime or important farmland soils.

“The Connecticut River Valley contains some of the best agricultural soils in the country,” said DoAg Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky.  “South Windsor’s history is steeped in the fertility of this land.  Preserving the best of the best soils for future generations to farm is critical to maintaining a high quality of life for the community and entire state of Connecticut.”

Commissioner Reviczky thanked the Shepard family, the town, and legislators during an August 29, 2018, ceremony on one of the two parcels, which is located at the easterly side of Main Street and the southerly side of Pleasant Valley Road in South Windsor.

The farm has four tobacco sheds and the historic Adler-Dobkin warehouse on Main Street and is currently used to produce a variety of crops.

“This is an important piece of property we are actually getting to put into play in terms of forever,” remarked South Windsor Deputy Mayor Andrew Paterna. “And that’s a really powerful word.”

The town of South Windsor contributed $245,500, and the state of Connecticut $462,254, to purchase the development rights from the landowners.

Preservation of the 86-acre Butler Farm was finalized in the town of New Hartford on August 9, 2018, upon recording of the deed. The total purchase was $436,050, with the state contributing $239,827, the town of New Hartford contributing $171,223, and Connecticut Farmland Trust $25,000.

The Butler Farm is the second farm preserved through DoAg’s Community Farms Preservation Program in 2018. The Community Farms Preservation Program was created through Public Act 08-174 and began as a pilot in 2011. This program is designed to preserve smaller farms of local economic importance with a demonstrated level of community support.

The town of New Hartford is also establishing a recreational path and providing access along the Farmington River, outside the agricultural easement area. In 2013 and 2014, matching funds through DoAg’s Farmland Restoration Program (FLRP) helped restore some of the farm’s fields back to production.  Those fields are used by Gresczyk Farms to grow vegetables.

The PDR for the 55-acre Polek Family Farm was deed recorded July 24, 2018, in the town of Enfield.  The total cost for preservation of the farm was $443,200 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) contributing $249,900 through the Agricultural Lands Easement (ALE) Program.

The state of Connecticut has successfully applied for millions of dollars in federal funds annually for PDR through the ALE Program. DoAg has partnered with NRCS to leverage a total of $1,714,829 in federal contributions through the ALE Program so far this year.

Preservation of the 184-acre Cheetham White Oak Farm was finalized on March 28, 2018, when the deed was recorded in the town of Stonington. NRCS will contribute $396,253 of the $774,480 total PDR amount, with the state share coming to $378,227, or $2,051 per acre.

Most recently the 82-acre Spalding Farm in Woodstock was preserved. The total PDR was $271,029, $3,300 per acre. This project received an NRCS contribution of $135,515, through the ALE Program.