HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT) is pleased to announce the protection of Pheasant Farm. In a twist of fate, a man who bought an overgrown property to mine it for gravel, ended up restoring the land to create a high-quality property for farming and then protecting it.
In 2006, owner Ken Sigfridson bought a former pheasant farm. The farm, which boasts over 104 acres, spans across two towns. The majority of the farm is in Lisbon and it extends into Canterbury. The land was overgrown, and Ken planned to dig up the soil and gravel to sell for profit, but then the economic downturn in 2008 impacted his business plans and forced him to think about the other options for the future of land. Instead of mining it, he went the opposite route. He decided to restore the land.
Ken reached out to the CT Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program in 2016, and they quickly asked CFT to be their partner in protecting the farm. Ken received multiple grants from the Farmland Restoration Program, a state program that helps farmers cover the cost of clearing and improving farm fields. He has greatly expanded the tillable acreage on the property with support from this program. Now that the farm is preserved forever, Ken is excited about the possibilities that the farmland provides the current – and future – farmers in the area. “The permanent protection of Pheasant Farm highlights the importance of ensuring agricultural farmlands will forever be available for current, and future, farmers in Eastern Connecticut,” said Bryan P. Hurlburt, Connecticut Commissioner of Agriculture. “It also showcases the value of our farmland restoration program to bring vital acreage back into production.”
The most interesting part of this story lies in the fact that the owner did not come from a farming family, nor does he farm his land now. The farmland is leased by Tyler Brothers-Ledgebrook Farm dairy for corn for its herd. Ken Sigfridson has six grandchildren between the ages of 4 to 13 and he wants them to have the option to work the land as farmers in the future. He has no idea if they will be interested in farming when they grow up, but he has created a path for them to be become first-generation farmers. “The farm will always be there, should they want it for any [agricultural] endeavor that they wish to pursue,” said Ken.
The property has 73% prime, statewide important, and locally important farmland soils and can be found in a quilt-work of agricultural fields, woods and rural residential development. “This farm was able to be protected through the invaluable partnerships with the USDA-NRCS and the Connecticut Farmland Trust,” said Cameron Weimar, CT Department of Agriculture Farmland Preservation Supervisor.
Commissioner Hurlburt emphasized the importance of those partnerships and how the agency is able to leverage USDA and partner funds. “More than 50% of our projects are funded through non-state dollars. This enables us to use state allocations wisely and continue protecting farmland in Connecticut.”
Elisabeth Moore, CFT’s Executive Director said CFT is happy to once again partner with the State of CT and the USDA-NRCS in order to protect another family farm. “Pheasant Farm is just the type of farm that CFT wants to protect. The high-quality soils, and location in active agricultural communities make it a high priority for both us and our partner. It is a pleasure to work with landowners like Ken who are committed to protecting their land for future generations.”
Agricultural conservation easements prohibit residential and industrial development but allow construction of agricultural structures on designated areas of the land. Since its founding in 2002, CFT has protected 55 family farms, covering over 4,100 acres. CFT is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on Connecticut residents to support its operations. CFT is Connecticut’s only statewide land trust, and the only land trust in the state dedicated solely to the protection of agricultural land. More information can be learned at ctfarmland.org.
— Connecticut Farmland Trust
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