|JANUARY 7, 2011 --
Gov. M. Jodi Rell has announced that the state is investing nearly $9 million to buy the development rights of 10 working farms, including one in New Milford and several others in Litchfield County, ultimately preserving 1,700 acres in prime cropland and open space in nine towns.
“I am tremendously pleased that we can keep hundreds of acres more in valuable and irreplaceable farmland and open space. That has always been our goal and in the last six years we have invested more in open space and farmland than anytime in history,” Gov. Rell said in a news release.
She said the state is closing out 2010 on pace to preserve more than 20 this calendar year, allowing more than 2,000 acres to remain in agriculture.
Since Mrs. Rell took office in July 2004, her administration has preserved 74 farms for a total of 7,789 acres.
When the state purchases a farm’s development rights, it places a permanent restriction on the use of the land; namely, that it can never be used for non-agricultural purposes.
The farms stay under private ownership and continue to pay local property taxes.
Mrs. Rell stated that, in many cases, federal funds through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program may be leveraged to reimburse the state up to 50 percent of the cost.
“The benefits are innumerable to the local citizens, to consumers who demand more locally grown food and to our farm families, the foundation of a $3.5 billion agriculture industry,” Gov. Rell said. “Keeping agriculture viable for generations is critical to our economy and quality of life.”
Connecticut has the second oldest farmland preservation program in the country, preserving development rights of its first farm in 1979.
According to the governor, the state’s goal is to preserve 130,000 acres of farmland with at least 85,000 acres dedicated to growing crops. To date, about 270 farms totaling more than 36,000 acres have been preserved or approved for preservation. T
Local farms preserved in the latest round of funding include the following in Litchfield County:
March Farm – Is an active family farm of 133 acres, with about 114 acres in apples, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, sweet corn, hay and pasture. It is also one of the largest greenhouse tomato producers in the state. March Farm sells to local stores, restaurants, farm markets and operates an on-site store and bakery. The state is buying the development rights for $1.2 million.
Davenport Farm – contains 92.5 acres, including cropland in vegetables, corn silage and flowers. The family grows their own vegetables and leases portions of the land to local farmers for dairy support, local farm markets and donations to the local food pantry. The state and town are jointly purchasing the development rights for $963,336, with the state’s share at $701,000.
Grindrod Farm – Also known as Mary-Del Farm, is an 87-acre active dairy farm in a scenic, agricultural section of town. It is adjacent to the 174-acre Krissel Farm, also known as Four Maples Farm, preserved by the state program in 2006. The state is buying the Grindrod Farm development rights for $900,000.
The state’s farmland preservation program recently received $5 million in bonding funds, which were approved this month.
Under Gov. Rell’s leadership since 2004, the state has invested more than $53 million for farmland preservation and the Community Investment Act, which provides grants for municipal open space preservation and, most recently, financial assistance for Connecticut dairy farmers.
The Rell administration has invested more in farmland preservation than any previous governor since its inception.