HARTFORD — Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT) and Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) are pleased to announce the preservation of Stanley Boniewski Farm in Middletown. This 41-acre farm was protected in concert by the Town of Middletown, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), CT DoAg, and CFT.
“We are very proud of preserving the farm,” said Andrew Chiaravallo, co-owner of the farm. His family bought the farm during the Depression. Today, Andrew and co-owner Bonnie Scheidler lease the land to a farmer who uses the property to pasture non-milking dairy cows and raise hay.
Like many farms in Connecticut, the farm is nestled between forested land and a developed suburban area. The farm’s prime fields are well suited for a wide variety of crops, which makes the property ideal for future farmers interested in developing a new farming operation. The landowners’ current goal is to continue leasing the property, but they aim to soon sell the land. By using CT FarmLink, a program run by CT DoAg and CFT that connects farmland seekers with farmland owners, Andrew has found candidates to buy the farm.
Andrew applied to the CT Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program in 2014. The farm protection project qualified for the department’s Community Farms Preservation Program, and it also received funding from the Town of Middletown.
“This is a great story showcasing the collaboration between local, state, and federal partners to ensure that all communities — not just rural — benefit from the protection of farmland to ensure access to local foods,” said Agriculture Commissioner, Bryan P. Hurlburt. “It also highlights the importance of the CT FarmLink program in assisting new farmers in finding farmland and transitioning to property ownership.” The 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 more than 375 farms encompassing over 44,000 acres.
Elisabeth Moore, Executive Director of CFT, said, “We are proud to protect one of the last farms in Middletown. Moreover, Connecticut Farmland Trust is proud because this farm has an excellent future ahead of it. The land is on the market and because it is preserved, the farm will be more affordable for a new farmer. Ensuring that farmers have access to affordable land is key to keeping farming sustainable in Connecticut.”
“Protecting our state’s valuable working lands is critical for the future,” said Thomas L. Morgart, Connecticut State Conservationist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“Through our Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, we were able to help protect 41 acres on Middletown’s Stanley Boniewski Farm. More than 50 percent of this farm’s soils are designated prime farmland soils, and 26 percent is locally important farmland soils. Permanently protecting these high-yielding soils is key to helping meet Connecticut’s – and the nation’s – 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 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 58 family farms, covering over 4,504 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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