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News Release

Stearns Family Reaches Goal to Preserve Family Farm

Stearns Farm. In most of Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts, that name is synonymous with the milk industry – under the brand Mountain Dairy. Not surprising, since they began selling milk nearly 150 years ago. And now, it will be around forever thanks to the latest conservation easement just placed on almost 193 acres – the final piece the family has worked so hard to protect -- their efforts permanently preserving more than 1,000 acres of Mountain Dairy farm.

The latest conservation easement is the fifth since 2015 the Stearns family has signed through partnerships with the Town of Mansfield, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through its Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

Stearns is a self-sufficient, 10th generation family farm that has been in the family since 1771. They raise their own cows, and pasteurize, homogenize, and bottle their milk on-site; and until 2012, was still offering home delivery – their gold and red milk trucks a familiar site on Connecticut roads.

“The acquisition of the development rights on the final piece of the Stearns Farm is a milestone for farmland preservation in Mansfield and to the State of Connecticut,” said Jeremy Jeliffe, spokesman for Mountain Dairy. “This is the final piece of Stearns’ land to be preserved after years of efforts by the family and the town, state and federal governments.”

“We are proud to be a part of protecting the Stearns Farm,” said Connecticut NRCS State Conservationist Thomas L. Morgart. “Conservation easements are beneficial on so many levels. They allow the landowner(s) to keep the property they love, provide a guarantee that the land will not be developed, protect wildlife and its habitat, protect open space, contribute to the environmental quality of the surrounding area, and preserve a piece of the state’s history,” Morgart said. “I applaud the commitment the Stearns’ have made to the land that has meant so much to so many of them.”

“This is a big win for farmland preservation in the State of Connecticut,” said Steven K. Reviczky, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. “We recognize prime farmland for the tremendous value it brings to the quality of life in Connecticut.  This partnership between the Stearns’ family and local, state and federal partners represents a shared commitment to future generations, their access to high-quality farmland, and their ability to continue providing milk and other essential agricultural products to our citizens.”

According to Mansfield’s Mayor Paul Shapiro, “the preservation of Mountain Dairy’s agricultural land represents great news for the Town of Mansfield and the region.  Mountain Dairy is the oldest farm in town, Mansfield’s largest agricultural business, and a key part of the town’s identity.  The town looks forward to working with Mountain Dairy to help their business thrive.”

Mansfield Environmental Planner Jennifer Kaufman reported that “Mountain Dairy is located in the town’s largest area of prime agricultural soils and active private farms.  In total, there are almost 1,100 acres of contiguous, permanently protected farmland in this section of town.”

With this behind them, the Stearns family can look forward to passing on the land they’ve worked for so many years to the 11th generation, and many more to come.