DOAG: PARTNERSHIPS ENABLE PRESERVATION OF BRISTOL’S FARM IN CANTON



May 29, 2019

PARTNERSHIPS ENABLE PRESERVATION OF BRISTOL’S FARM IN CANTON

Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation

 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) partnered with multiple entities to ensure the 27-acre Bristol’s Farm in Canton, CT remains in agricultural use in perpetuity.

Dan Bristol, a fourth-generation owner said the family started to pursue protecting the farm in 1999, but not all of the family-owners were on board.

“We started the process again in 2015, and it’s taken from then to now to work things through to sell the development rights on the property,” he said. “The biggest thing is that the family is all on board this time.”

To protect the farm’s 27 acres of prime and statewide important farmland soils, the Bristol family utilized DoAg’s Community Farms Preservation Program (CFPP). 

The CFPP was designed to preserve smaller farms of local economic importance.

“This program is a valuable component of the state’s long-term plan to cultivate sustainable agriculture and food production for the residents of Connecticut,” said DoAg Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt.

“Preserving prime farmland soils for future generations to farm is critical to maintaining a high quality of life for the community and entire state of Connecticut.”

CFPP is for farms that do not meet the criteria of the state’s flagship Farmland Preservation Program for reasons of size, soil quality, or location, but may contribute to local economic activity through agricultural production.

Such farms typically have fewer than 30 acres of crop land, are active farms in food or fiber production, contain prime farmland soils and/or additional farmland of statewide importance, and have a demonstrated level of community support.

The program is intended to increase the capacity of municipalities to plan for, and participate in, farmland preservation efforts. The program also requires the protected farms to be in active food production.

To participate, municipalities should recognize agriculture in the town’s plan of conservation and development, and establish a source of funds for agricultural land preservation. A local match is also a requirement of the CFPP.

The Town of Canton contributed $94,870 and the Canton Land Conservation Trust contributed $45,000 to supply the local match needed for the program.

“At 27 acres, the farm was the perfect candidate for the Community Farms Preservation Program because it’s designed to protect smaller, food-producing farms,” said Kathleen Doherty, Conservation Coordinator for the Connecticut Farmland Trust.

The Connecticut Farmland Trust assisted with the due diligence for the purchase of development rights (PDR) and contributed $25,000 to the purchase price. DoAg provided $201,504 through the state CFPP for a total purchase price of $366,371 or $13,360 per acre.

DoAg partnered with the Connecticut Farmland Trust, the Town of Canton, and the Canton Land Conservation Trust to co-hold an easement interest on the property.

Agricultural conservation easements prohibit residential and industrial development but may allow for construction of agricultural structures on designated areas of the land.

The Bristol family continues to own the property, which they have farmed since 1888, but the PDR places a permanent restriction on the deed that limits its use to agriculture only.

Dan’s son, Josh Bristol, is the family’s fifth-generation farmer and runs the operation, which grows berries, sweet corn, flowers, and a variety of vegetables such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, radishes, beans, snap peas, tomatoes, peppers, beets, eggplant, and squash.

Located along Albany Turnpike (Route 44), the farm’s fields and farm stand are highly visible, drawing customers that keep the operation’s CSA and farm stand viable.

“It’s a lucky spot for us because we’re on a main thoroughfare,” said John Forker, one of the owners of the farm. “And as long as Josh is willing to farm it, I just hope it stays the way it is.”

Bristol’s Farm Market is open May through October. For more information about the farm’s seedlings, flowers, produce, and CSA shares go to www.bristolsfarmmarket.com.

DoAg’s long-term goal is to preserve 130,000 acres of agricultural land. Working with partners has enabled DoAg to preserve more than 44,000 acres on 367 Connecticut farms.

Commissioner Hurlburt says he is working to increase the number of farms protected per year, with the goal of preserving 400 farms covering 47,000 acres by the end of 2020.