This year, Ellington received its first Pathfinder Award, which is an annual award given out by the Working Lands Alliance, a project of American Farmland Trust. The Pathfinder showcases an entity, in this case, Ellington, and its work toward preservation.
The Pathfinder was given to Town Planner Robert Phillips and the Ellington Conservation Commission.
Phillips said the preservation committee in town was created about five years ago and that the town receives local funding as well as state and federal funding to preserve land.
"The key to any of this is to find a willing landowner," Phillips said.
And he, along with the Conservation Commission have found some willing landowners:
- SilverHurz Farm on Pinney Street is the first property successfully preserved by the town. Phillips said the town was also able to find a farmer to continue working on the land.
- The Myers property off of Green Road is next on the preservation list. "The owner doesn't want the land anymore, but would like to see it stay farmland," said Phillips.
- The McKnight Farm on Muddy Brook Road and the Charter Farm on Somers Road are in the process of being preserved as well. In both cases, the farmers want to extract money for personal reasons while preserving land. These two properties will most likely be closed on sometime next year, Phillips said.
Phillips said, "recognition for a job well done," is one reason he says he's happy the town has received the Pathfinder.
"It's nice to have people see success," he said.
Phillips said that they will keep moving forward, and hopefully get more landowners interested in preserving. He said that word of mouth through farming groups and in town is one of the ways landowners learn about preserving their land.
Phillips attended the awards banquet at the State Capitol recently. He said, there was a common theme of land preservation.
Phillips said he hopes this award "bolsters interest," and his plan is to "keep grinding away."