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Around The Grange
At Sullivan Farm, Focus on Agriculture

By Scott Benjamin, Housatonic Times (10/22/10)

  NOVEMBER 1, 2010 --

New Milford Youth Agency Executive Director Mark Mankin said that although, in recent decades, farm land has been turned into housing developments, in relative terms agriculture remains more vibrant in town that in some surrounding municipalities.

“New Milford has made an incredible effort to really bring to the forefront the agriculture in the area,” he said in an interview during the second annual Sullivan Farm Festival, which was held last Saturday, October 16th.

The event, which was co-sponsored by the New Milford Youth Agency and the town’s Farmland Preservation Committee, offered demon­strations on making cider, hay rides, a culinary tent, and an appearance by Tractor Mac series author and illustrator Billy Steers as well as games and crafts.

The farm, located on Route 202 (Litchfield Road), was purchased 11 years ago from the Sullivan family, which had continuously farmed on the property since 1841.

A news release reported that the farm welcomes more than 1,500 school children annually on farm visits that are coordinated with local learning programs.

Mr. Mankin said that reports indicate that New Milford, which has more land than any of the Connecticut’s 169 municipalities, had 147 farms in 1900.

He said that number had dwindled considerably by even the 1960s but that even today farming remains more prominent in New Milford than in many surrounding towns.

“There are quite a few farms left that are active today,” Mr. Mankin said.

“I have to give a lot of credit to the Town Council, which approved an ordinance,” he said. “The Farmland Preservation Committee has been really up front about promoting this area for agriculture.”

Mr. Mankin said 1,500 people attended the Sullivan Farm Festival, which was the number his agency had projected for the event, which was initially held in 2008 and then was canceled in 2009, due to rain.

“It gives us a lot of visibility, because for a lot of people it’s the first time they’ve come here,” he said.

“It gives them an opportunity to see the program that we do here,” Mr. Mankin said, making reference to the maple syrup operation and other activities that the New Milford Youth Agency has at Sullivan Farm.

Mr. Mankin said that with the co-sponsorship of the Farmland Preservation Committee, there were more activities at the festival this year. “There were a lot more tractors and games for the kids,” he said.


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