HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT) and Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) are pleased to announce the preservation of Geer Farm in Lebanon. This 96-acre farm was protected in concert by the Town of Lebanon, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), CT DoAg, and CFT.
“The Geer family is pleased to preserve the farmland that has been in our family for nearly 200 years for agricultural uses,” said Linda Heatherly, owner of Geer Farm. “2020 has served as a reminder of the importance of agriculture in our nation’s food supply, and we are honored to join several surrounding farms throughout Lebanon in Connecticut’s farmland preservation program.”
Geer Farm is leased by Cushman Farms, a partner in The Farmer’s Cow, which uses the land for hay and corn to feed its herd of dairy cows. The farm joins a wealth of protected farms in Lebanon.
“The Town of Lebanon was delighted to assist the Geer family in preserving their farm that sits adjacent to Lebanon’s Regional Agricultural Science & Technology Center High School,” said Philip S. Chester, the Lebanon Town Planner. “Over 6,000 acres of farmland is preserved in Lebanon – the most of any municipality in New England!”
“We are pleased to work with the owners of Geer Farm, which provides vital support acreage to nearby dairy farms,” said Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “This property supplies access to Connecticut Grown food and products and ensures agriculture remains an integral part of Lebanon’s landscape.” Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program was established in 1978 to protect the prime and important farmland soils in the state in order to maintain and preserve agricultural land for the future. To date, the program has permanently protected 383 farms encompassing over 46,000 acres to date.
Elisabeth Moore, Executive Director of CFT, said, “Geer Farm fits into the long history of farming in Lebanon. It’s an important dairy support farm, and we are proud that it’s the 14th farm that CFT has preserved in Lebanon. Preservation of Geer Farm helps to sustain the local agricultural community of eastern Connecticut. We are extremely grateful to our partners and supporters, and to Linda Heatherly for choosing to partner with CFT to protect her farmland for future generations.”
“Protecting our state’s valuable working lands is critical,” said Thomas L. Morgart, Connecticut State Conservationist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Our Agricultural Conservation Easement Program enables us to help protect valuable farmland for the future. The recent conservation easement placed on Geer Farm in Lebanon ensures 64 acres of open cropland and hayfields, and 35 acres of forestland will never be subject to development. Geer Farm is surrounded by eight other farms enrolled in conservation easements and, together, totals an amazing 1,600 acres safeguarded in perpetuity. The 96 acres protected on this farm contain approximately 70 percent of 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 60 family farms, covering over 4,716 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 Department of Agriculture
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