HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT), USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), and the Town of Newtown are pleased to announce the preservation of Castle Hill Farm in Newtown.
Thirty-one acres of Castle Hill Farm, including its well-known corn maze field, were protected by a collaboration between the Town of Newtown, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), and CFT.
The Paproski family, which has owned the farm since 1927, has created a popular destination throughout the year for area families who enjoy shopping at the farm stand, visiting its pumpkin patch, and picking out a Christmas tree. The Paproskis’ farm, considered to be part of the fabric of the Newtown community, recently expanded its business to provide special events
and corporate gatherings.
Agritourism, which includes pumpkin picking, cut-your-own Christmas trees, and special events, is becoming more common in New England. It’s a way for farms to generate extra income by welcoming visitors to the farm for family-fun activities. Since agritourism makes preserving farmland more complicated, CFT provided a dynamic conservation strategy to accommodate the agritourism on Castle Hill Farm. Such allotments set CFT apart as an organization that works every angle to help farmers protect their land.
The Paproski family also grows hay and corn. They work diligently to maintain a total of over one hundred acres of farmland. The thirty-one acres that are now protected are the most valuable and the most beautiful.
“Castle Hill Farm is a universally loved vista in Newtown. I know I speak for all of our residents in gratitude for the partnership between the Town, Connecticut Farmland Trust, USDA-NRCS, and the Paproski family in securing the preservation of this trophy property for generations to come. The other important element, not to be forgotten, is that the property will continue to be farmed, which is great for our community and Connecticut,” said Dan Rosenthal, Newtown’s First Selectman.
“Preserving farms in Newtown, while enabling their continued use, is a Win-Win for our community. [We] have invested in our local farms, allowing them to be viable for generations to come. I am thankful for the participation of our Newtown town leadership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Connecticut Farmland Trust, and the Paproski Family for their support of this accomplishment,” added Rob Sibley, Deputy Director of Planning for the Town of Newtown.
Elisabeth Moore, Executive Director of CFT, said, “Not only is it a source of pride to have protected the Paproskis’ farm, but it’s also a victory for Connecticut Farmland Trust in that Castle Hill Farm stands as first farm in Fairfield County that our land trust protected. That’s a true breakthrough in a county where farmland is rare. And we intend on protecting more of it.”
“Protecting valuable working lands is critical to our state,” said Thomas L. Morgart, Connecticut State Conservationist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Our Agricultural Conservation Easement Program enables us to work with partners to place an easement on agricultural property to prohibit it from ever being developed; thereby, helping to secure the future of farming in Connecticut. The more than 30 acres that have been protected at Castle Hill Farm in Newtown contains approximately 78 percent prime, statewide, and local important soils – meaning they are high yielding soils and key to meeting short- and long-term needs to clothe and feed a hungry world,” he said.
Through the NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), agricultural land easements protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing the conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses. Land protected by these types of easements provide additional public benefits, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat, and protection of open space.
Agricultural conservation easements prohibit residential and industrial development but allow commercial agriculture and construction of agricultural structures on designated areas of the land. Since its founding in 2002, CFT has protected over 60 family farms, covering over 4,746 acres. CFT is the only land trust in the state dedicated solely to the protection of agricultural land. CFT is a private, accredited 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on Connecticut residents to support its work. Learn more at CTFarmland.org.
–Connecticut Farmland Trust
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