Last month, Ellington First Selectman Maurice Blanchette and Commissioner of Agriculture Steven K. Reviczky announced that the Town of Ellington and the State of Connecticut completed the joint acquisition of development rights to an Ellington farm.
The acquisition of approximately 70 acres near Green and Reeves roads, generally known as the Myers Farm, was completed on the Dec. 28, 2012. The United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) was also a partner in the project.
“I think it was great that we were able to save a large piece of farmland within an area that has other preserved farmland and I was satisfied with the process,” Cal Myers, owner of the Myers Farm, said in a release.
Blanchette said that the town is very pleased to continue its efforts in farmland preservation with the addition of the Myers Farm, and hopes that there will be more opportunities to help preserve farmland in partnership with the State of Connecticut and the NRCS.
“We are thrilled to see this highly productive farmland protected. The acquisition ensures this land will be available for crop production for many years to come,” NRCS State Conservationist Lisa Coverdale said.
Ellington Town Planner Robert Phillips said that this was a win-win for the seller, the town, and the state.
“This was the second development rights acquisition in our successful local farmland preservation program and there are more in the pipeline,” he said. “Farmland is what makes up the fabric of the town’s character and I am thrilled that we have more interest.”
According to Reviczky, keeping farms and farm communities like Ellington viable helps ensure we retain the ability to produce and meet the demand for local food, create jobs and preserve the unique character and culture of the state.
“It is vital that we continue to preserve our best agricultural land,” he said.
Phillips said that the preservation of the Myers Farm represents Ellington’s second joint acquisition by the town, State of Connecticut, and the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program administered by the NRCS, and is another acquisition associated with the local farmland protection program.
The 70-acre Myers Farm is located in an agricultural part of town that abuts the Northern Connecticut Land Trust’s preserved “Swann Farm” on the southerly side of Reeves Road and the westerly side of Green Road that is largely unimproved. Approximately 94 percent – or 66 acres of the 70-acre farm – is classified as prime or important farmland soils, those most suitable for growing crops. Together with the 56-acre Swann Farm, the acquisition makes a contiguous block of 126 preserved acres.
The contribution from the town was $71,370, with half of that amount to be reimbursed to the town from the NRCS.
Phillips said that the farm now has in place a permanent conservation easement restricting its use to agriculture only.
“Protected farms help the town and state retain its rural character and scenic vistas, protect natural resources, promote local food security, and sustain employment in the agricultural sector,” he said.
Phillips recently accepted the 2012 Farmland Preservation Pathfinder Outstanding Group Award from the Working Lands Alliance, a project of the American Farmland Trust, on behalf of the town.