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F A R M I N G F O O D L A N D  U S E C U L T U R E

Discover the Diversity of Connecticut Agriculture

Farming history and contemporary public policy are focus of program

lYME DAIRY FARM OWNER Jack Tiffany is one of dozens of farmers profiled in the documentary "Working the Land."

Connecticut’s rich agricultural tradition dates to its earliest settlement. From the first days of small subsistence farming through its development into an economic mainstay, Connecticut farmers and the farming way of life helped build the state, give sustenance to millions, and provide state residents with a special sense of place.

Today, however, many say that the future of farming in Connecticut is at risk. Others see transformation and resurgence.

Working the Land, a new documentary now available on DVD from SimonPure Productions, tells the compelling story of state agriculture – from its earliest history to its present-day diversity. The program also explores trends affecting farming in the state and the public policy that shapes its future. Along the way, we visit many picturesque state farms and meet the farmers who work the land and waters of Connecticut.

Acclaimed actor Sam Waterston narrates the documentary.

Back in the Hay Day

Where once nearly everyone in Connecticut lived on or next to a farm, today hardly anyone does.

In 1944, there were 22,000 farms in the state. Today, there are 4,200. Farmers who have managed to survive, and sometimes thrive, have done so by successfully adapting to changes in the marketplace and in society. The diversity and adaptability of the state's farms is a bright sign for the future viability of Connecticut agriculture. Nevertheless, each year more farmers go out of business and more farmland is lost.

One factor threatening Connecticut farms  is sprawl and its great need for developable land. The relentless and poorly coordinated development of Connecticut's rural and suburban areas has led to a startling loss of state farmland. In recent years, Connecticut lost the highest percentage of its farmland to development than any other state, a trend that is accelerating.

A Resurgence of Interest in Local Farming and Food

Yet, despite these discouraging circumstances,  agriculture is still a significant part of the state economy, generating about $2 billion annually with about 50,000 people working in the sector.

Click here for farmers in the program.

There are still successful egg, dairy, vegetable, fruit and tobacco farms in Connecticut, some farmed by the same family going back generations. They are joined by a new breed of farmer -- from small-scale part-timer to multi-million-dollar operator -- who pursues innovative ways to grow, harvest, make and sell an increasingly diverse array of farm products. In addition to more traditional farm products, today’s Connecticut farmer might provide consumers with plants, organic produce, gourmet vegetables, wine, cheese, grass-fed lamb or beef.

Feeding chickens in Moodus, 1950s

With an affluent population eager for local product and easy access to New York and Boston, state farmers have the opportunity to develop and serve a huge consumer base. Another bright spot is the growth of agri-tourism to wineries, pick-your-own farms and farmers' markets.

The nature of farming and the beautiful landscapes infuse Working the Land with visual material that ranges from charming to spectacular. Archival photographs and film footage are combined with newly shot material to help bring the story to life.

The program is produced, written and directed by Ken Simon, executive producer and principal at SimonPure Productions in East Haddam. Simon’s previous historical documentaries have won three Emmy Awards and 17 nominations. Click here for Faith Middleton's interview with Ken Simon on WNPR.

Working the Land is a co-production of SimonPure Productions and Connecticut Humanities Council. It has aired several times on Connecticut Public Television and is the latest program in The Connecticut Experience documentary series, a collaboration of CPTV and Connecticut Humanities Council that explores themes, events and personalities from state history.

A Co-Production of
SimonPure Productions and Connecticut Humanities Council

Lead Funding by
Connecticut Farmland Trust
Major Funding by
Connecticut Farm Bureau
Major Funding by
Connecticut Department of Agriculture

Additional Funding by

The 1772 Foundation

Additional Funding by
CT Agriculture Education Foundation, CT Farm Fresh,
CT Farm Wine Development Council, CT Green industries Council,
CT Pomological Society, Barbara O. David, First Pioneer Farm Credit,
Fowler & Huntting, Henry Lord, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods Market
Part of The Connecticut Experience, a Collaboration of
Connecticut Public TV and Connecticut Humanities Council.

Copyright 2008 SimonPure Productions, LLC

Working the Land: The Story of Connecticut Agriculture
is a Co-Production of
SimonPure Productions and Connecticut Humanities Council

P.O. Box 459, Moodus, CT 06469 ● 860-873-3328 ● E-Mail UsPress KitAbout Us

CT AG LINKS
A consumer resource guide

FARMING LIFE
Hundreds of archival pics

FARM WISDOM
Interviews with state farmers

THE PAST
Historians on  farming history

THE OBSERVERS
Expert takes on
farming today

BUILDING MALLS
You can develop Buckland Hills

FROM THE AIR
Aerial views of CT farmscapes

 

CT FARMING NEWS

Saving the State's Barns

STATEWIDE - Preservationists try to preserve a disappearing part of the state's agricultural heritage.

Fun Down on the Farm

STURBRIDGE - Agri-tourism is the buzzword for a growing number of state farmers, according to speakers at the recent Harvest New England marketing conference.

CT Locavores, Rejoice!

STURBRIDGE - At the recent Harvest New England marketing conference, CT Agriculture Commissioner F. Philip Prelli described how the state is supporting local growers and processors.

Farm Map Goes Digital

STATEWIDE - The Connecticut Dept. of Agriculture has introduced an interactive website guide to more than 200 destination farms in the state.

State Funds for CT Farms

HARTFORD - In the last two years, the state has granted more than $1.5 million to farmers, non-profit organizations and municipalities to help support economic viability.

Slaughterhouse for CT?

LITCHFIELD - State farmers start a process to bring a mobile slaughterhouse to Connecticut.

Matchmaking for Farmers

STATEWIDE - Farmers and would-be farmers looking for working  land have a new resource compliments of  the state Dept. of Agriculture. Connecticut FarmLink lists both property owners with farmland for sale or rent and people who are searching for land to farm.

Farm Preservation Gains Popularity with Towns

ESSEX - Land trusts and municipalities are turning to acquiring development rights as a way to save what is left of the ever-dwindling number of farms in Connecticut.

Disappearing Dairies

SHELTON - The state's remaining dairy farms are struggling to survive despite daunting odds. Farmer Terry Jones knows why it's important to help state dairies persevere.

Farming Underwater

HARTFORD - More than 70,000 acres of shellfish farms are being worked under the waters of the state.

CT's Changing Face

STATEWIDE - More folks are signing up to combat sprawl, vowing to cure its ugly effect on our state's economy, sense of place, ag sector and culture.

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