The Campaign to Save Our Farms
800 Acres Protected Forever
In 2000, after several years of quiet conversations, a small group of directors led by Dave Beglan began negotiations in earnest with the families who owned the Gavel, Orzech and Good Hill Farms. Realizing that development pressures were increasing and that Roxbury's active agricultural land was at risk at the time, Executive Director Julie Steers and Chairman of the Land Acquisition Committee Ric Sonder met with the staff of Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection to share the Trust's very ambitious acquisition plan and began to prepare grant applications to the Open Space and Watershed Acquisition Fund that might match up to 50% of the purchase prices.
Farms, left to right: (A) Orzech, (B) Gavel, (C) Good Hill
By the fall of 2002, four grants totaling $2.9 million had been received from the Open Space and Watershed Acquisition Fund. In November 2003 the Town of Woodbury had approved a grant of $250,000. During 2003 our goal was to reach out to everyone in the community through neighborhood parties. The Trust was gratified by the willingness of people to be hosts, resulting in some 30 gatherings and a multitude of gifts to Save Our Farms. Our elementary school students also rallied, contributing $550 to the Save Your Pennies, Save Our Farms campaign. Because of all this community support, the Diebold and Ceres Foundations made significant contributions towards the purchase of the Gavel and Good Hill Farms in honor of Dorothy Diebold.
Illustration by Billy Steers
State grants matched -
$7.1 million raised
The Campaign to Save Our Farms to preserve Good Hill Farm, the Gavel Family Farm and the Orzech Farm has been a primary focus of the Land Trust resulting in the permanent preservation of over 800 acres of active farmland, the enhancement of greenways and the further protection of the Shepaug River. We are very grateful to the Gavel, Orzech and Pond families for their generosity and commitment to preserving this farmland for generations to come.
The Land Trust now leases over 450 acres of agricultural land on which local farmers grow hay, corn and pumpkins, and graze cattle. The Land Trust's Farm Management Committee, under the leadership of Jim Conway, works with our other eight farm leases in town to sustain local agriculture. Sustaining local farming helps preserve rural vistas and Roxbury's agricultural history. Although our preserves are open to the public, please note that farmland is working land. Please respect the farmer and steer clear of the open fields during growing season and do not enter into areas where animals are grazing.
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