Agreement Would Protect Valley Farm (CT)

Woodstock, CT, 9/6/2005 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, and the Town of Woodstock announced today that TPL has reached agreement to purchase the 100-acre Valley Farm, one of the town’s top preservation priorities. The agreement between TPL and current owners Timothy and Marianne Eddy includes the house, outbuildings, and 94 acres of active farmland. TPL was asked by the Town of Woodstock to assume interim ownership of Valley Farm while funding to purchase the development rights on the property is put into place. TPL expects to finalize the farm’s permanent preservation as agricultural land by March 2006.

TPL and the Eddy Family have offered to sell the development rights for Valley Farm to the Town of Woodstock, and the State Department of Agriculture under Connecticut’s Farmland Preservation program. TPL is also pursuing additional funding for this purchase through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Farm and Ranchland Preservation Program. Once the development rights are conveyed to the state, town, and/or the NRCS, the farm will be restricted from any future development. TPL is looking for a private buyer to purchase the house and farmland, as restricted, and continue the farming operations. According to Melissa Spear, a Project Manager for TPL, “Our goal is to maintain Valley Farm’s contribution to the agricultural community of Woodstock for good.”

The state and the NRCS have both expressed a strong interest in protecting the farm. TPL is seeking to obtain the bulk of funding for the purchase of development rights from these two sources and has estimated the Town of Woodstock’s total cost to protect Valley Farm will be in the neighborhood of $275,000. The town currently has sufficient resources in its Land Acquisition Fund to cover this expenditure. Voters will be asked to approve the purchase at a Town Meeting to be held in February of 2006.

Located at the corner of Woodstock and Dugg Hill Roads, Valley Farm is at the heart of Woodstock’s farm corridor, and until just recently was one of 14 remaining working dairy farms in Woodstock. Delpha Very, First Selectman of Woodstock, said, “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to ensure that Valley Farm will remain as it is forever. In light of the growth and development going on all around us, our generation has the responsibility to preserve some of our special places for future generations. Thanks to the Eddy Family and the Trust for Public Land, we have a chance not only to protect farmlands from development, but also to preserve our agrarian roots and Woodstock’s agricultural heritage.”

The Woodstock Conservation Commission has identified Valley Farm as a top priority for protection, due to its prime agricultural soils and its location within a cluster of neighboring farms which are already protected. According to an April 2005 Conservation Commission report, “development would be contrary to the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.”

Dawn Adiletta, Chair of the Open Space and Farmland Preservation Committee, said, “We agree wholeheartedly that Valley Farm must be protected against development. Its location near the village of East Woodstock makes it critically important for the historic character of our town. We want to hold on to the scenic views we value so much, as well as our farming tradition.”

CME Associates, Inc., an engineering firm based in Woodstock, has also supported the Valley Farm project by donating the Boundary Survey which is required prior to selling the development rights through the State Farmland Preservation program.

Tim Northrop, Connecticut State Director for TPL, pointed out that across the state, an average of 8,000 acres of farmland per year are lost to non-agricultural uses. “The state has protected less than 10% of all its farmland, and unless we take action quickly, it will be too late for many of our farms. TPL is proud to be involved in the Valley Farm effort, which is one of several projects we’re undertaking to help preserve the agricultural landscape in Connecticut.”

Timothy Eddy, the fourth generation of Eddy’s to own and operate Valley Farm, said, “although we can no longer keep Valley Farm, we are pleased to work with TPL and the Town to guarantee that this wonderful land won’t be developed after we leave. There’s nothing that would make us happier than knowing that Valley Farm will be there forever.”

To help defray the cost of preserving the farm, Woodstock’s Open Space Committee will also mount a private fundraising campaign. Those wishing to contribute to the project can contact Dawn Adilleta, chair of the Committee, at 860-928-4369.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit organization, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Connecticut program (1995-2005) and the protection of more than 4,000 acres of open space, watershed land, working farms and forestland, and historic resources in 32 communities across the state.