As home prices in cities and suburbs continue to rise at a quick clip, living in the country is trendier than ever. But that trend is also ruining some of the best parts of the country. So a recent announcement by Gov. M. Jodi Rell that the state designated $1.65 million to protect and preserve the development rights of six Connecticut family farms was welcome news to farmers and to the governments of small towns that have long been defined by their agricultural heritage.

At press time, the money was expected to be approved at the state Bond Commission’s Dec. 9 meeting. The funding will place a permanent restriction on the use of the land so that it can never be used for non-agricultural purposes. The farms will now stay under private ownership and continue to pay local property taxes.

The money makes a difference in towns like Woodstock, where a dairy farm has been designated to receive $252,370. Woodstock, a town of about 8,000 in the northeastern corner of the state, is one of the fastest-growing in Connecticut, according to First Selectman Margaret Wholean. And despite a commitment by the town’s government and residents – voters have adopted ordinances regarding the right to farm and created a fund for land preservation and acquisition – it is not always easy to maintain the town’s character of a farming community.

“There are economic forces that are out there,” Wholean said.

‘Protective Measures’

Single homes and subdivisions are popping up quickly in Woodstock, which attracts commuters from Hartford, Providence, R.I., and Boston. The farm in question – The Valley Farm – is an 89-acre dairy support farm that is owned by the Trust for Public Lands and the Eddy family. It has been in the Eddy family for generations, Wholean said, but as the owners aged, it eventually became in danger being lost as farmland. The money from the state government will ensure that, when the farm is sold, it will continue operating as a farm.

“It is a very beautiful spot,” Wholean said.

Farms in East Windsor, Franklin, North Franklin, Sharon and Suffield also received money for preservation.

“I am absolutely committed to preserving the character of our state,” Rell said in a prepared statement. “It is about balancing the need for development – for economic growth, for jobs and for new housing – with the need to safeguard what makes our state a special place to live and raise a family. Every year we are losing more open space and farmland to housing developments and retail centers. Connecticut has a rich and proud farm heritage, and today we are making a substantial commitment that ensures these farms are preserved for future generations.

“Today we are preserving nearly 600 acres of family farms from Sharon in the northwest to Woodstock in the northeast, and I hope these protective measures send a message to everyone in Connecticut that we are rededicating ourselves those to keeping Connecticut the great state that it is. At the same time, we are rededicating ourselves to those who will inherit the land from us. For that, we should all be proud.”

The money is split between the five other farms. A farm on Route 87 in Franklin, the Koziol-Cushman Farm, will receive $181,935. The farm is a 113.6-acre dairy support farm in hay and silage corn owned by Cushman Farms Limited Partnership. Nate Cushman and the Cushman family helps run the farm. They have a large dairy farm, milking about 600 cows and managing more than 1,200 dairy cows. The farm contains a considerable amount of prime and important farmland soils.

Four Maples Farm on Amenia Road in Sharon will receive $587,456. The farm, owned by James Krissel, is a 173-acre dairy and beef support farm in hay and silage corn production. It contains a considerable amount of prime and important farmland soils. The area is in a rural agricultural community and scenic area of the state. The farm abuts another 78-acre preserved farm and will create a block of over 250 acres of open space and protected farmlands.

James Allen Farm on Copper Hill Road in Suffield will receive $332,065. The farm is a 109.2-acre dairy and support farm in hay and silage corn owned by James Allen. The acquisition will be a joint partnership between the Town of Suffield and the state. The farm received a very good evaluation based upon farmland preservation program evaluation scoring regulations.

Grant Farm on Broad Brook Road in East Windsor received $203,100. The farm is owned by Philip and Selma Grant and is a 54-acre dairy support farm in hay and silage corn.

The Sawicky Farm on North Road in North Franklin will receive $90,280. The farm is a 53-acre alfalfa farm owned by William Sawicky and William Sawicky Jr.