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Lebanon Family Ensures Father’s Legacy by Conserving his Farm

“Connecticut has a rich history in agriculture,” said Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Thomas Morgart, “dating all the way back to its settlement. In those days, just about everyone either lived on or next to a farm. Although growth and development have changed the landscape, the Leone’s, along with the Town of Lebanon and many of its farmers, are working to permanently preserve this farm and the town’s deep farming heritage,” he said.


Morgart’s comments came as he announced the closing of another conservation easement recently; this time on the Leone Farm in Lebanon, 64-acres that contains both prime and unique farmland soils.


In 2009, siblings Robert, John, and Anthony Leone, along with their sister, Marie Goodman, inherited the farm that was home to their father’s dairy operation. Before he passed, Anthony Sr. made it clear he wanted the farm preserved. So, despite numerous offers from developers to purchase the land, the family passed them up and followed through with the conservation easement, according to plan.


The Leone’s began by contacting the Town of Lebanon, who put them in touch with the Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT). Working with CFT, the Leone’s then applied, and were selected, for funding under the USDA-NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), which provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Although the Leone siblings do not farm the property themselves, they rent the fields while they continue to improve the property to sell to just the right farmer.


Agriculture is a $3.5 billion industry in the state, and provides nutrition to millions. But the future is at risk. Over the years, Connecticut lost the highest percentage of its farmland to development than any other state, a trend that over the last few years is beginning to slow down.


“… Since my father has passed, a lot of developers offered to buy the land, but they would just put up apartments,” said Robert Leone. “My father would be happy right now and I feel good about that.”