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Federal/State/Local Partnership Ensures 4th Generation Farm Remains in Ag

With the stroke of a pen, the owner of R-E-W Farm in Lebanon recently affixed a conservation easement on over 132 acres of land he wanted to ensure would be protected from ever being developed.

 

Marc Wolf is a 4th generation dairy farmer who breeds purebred Holsteins. The roots to farming in this family run deep – and continue to do so through his two sons who carry on that legacy. With such strong ties to his vocation, Wolf wanted to ensure his land would remain in agriculture.

 

In the summer of 2017, Wolf applied to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program. The Department of Agriculture contacted the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), one of their go-to partners. Add in the Town of Lebanon, and it became another successful joint state/federal/local project.

 

How it works is, the state’s Farmland Preservation Program and NRCS’ Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE) acquire the development rights, ensuring the land remains available strictly for agricultural use – forever. These programs benefit not only the landowner, but also residents by conserving natural resources; protecting open space and the health of the watershed in which the property resides; providing habitat for a variety of wildlife species; and helping maintain a readily available source of food and farm products close to metropolitan areas of the state.

 

Located in a town highly regarded by the agricultural community, R-E-W Farm is important for another reason. According to the USDA-NRCS Web Soil Survey, 43% of the property is covered by prime farmland soils; 1% by statewide important farmland soils; and 35% by locally important farmland soils. This means it has the ability to produce high yielding crops.

 

The closing gives not only the landowner, NRCS, and the state reason to be pleased, it’s also cause for celebration by residents. “Agriculture is one of Connecticut’s most important economic factors, and its success depends on healthy, productive farmland – including R-E-W Farm,” said Thomas L. Morgart, State Conservationist for NRCS. “The programs offered by NRCS and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture protect the long-term viability of the state’s food supply by preventing that land from being converted to non-agricultural uses.”

 

“Investing in the permanent protection of properties such as the 132-acre R-E-W Farm for agricultural use is critical to ensuring vital support acreage for Connecticut’s dairy farm families is available for future generations,” said Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “The Connecticut Department of Agriculture is pleased to have contributed 50% of the funding, working closely with the Wolf family to preserve their farm. We appreciate the support from the Town of Lebanon and our collaboration with the USDA ACEP-ALE program as we work together to protect our state’s prime and important soils.”

 

“For four generations the Wolf family has been working their land that sits along scenic Trumbull Highway,” said Lebanon Town Planner Phil Chester. “Now preserved, it is available for generations to come,” he said.

 

R-E-W Farm’s conservation easement is the first recorded in Connecticut in FY2020.