Last Dairy Farm in Newtown, CT, Protected

Newtown, CT. 11/21/2007: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit conservation organization, along with Newtown officials, announced today that the town has purchased a conservation easement on 74 acres of the Ferris Farm, ensuring its permanent protection as farmland. This historic property, located on Route 302, is currently the last operating dairy farm in Fairfield County.

Newtown First Selectman Herb Rosenthal said, “The purchase of development rights and a conservation easement on the 74-acre Ferris Farm preserves a scenic and strategic parcel of land for future generations in Newtown. It also ensures that the last active dairy farm in Fairfield County can continue to operate. This provides both quality of life and economic benefits for Newtown. I want to thank the State of Connecticut for the $500,000 grant to help us fund the purchase, The Trust for Public Land for facilitating the whole purchase process, and the Ferris family for their foresight and cooperation.”

Owned and operated by the Ferris family since 1864, the farm straddles a gateway into town; its cornfields, pastures, and prominent rock outcroppings offer a scenic vista to passersby, and greatly contribute to the look and feel of the community. The farm is also a popular destination, with people coming from near and far to enjoy homemade ice cream at the Ferris Farm creamery. The Trust for Public Land has been working with the Ferris family for nearly two years to permanently protect the farm, and negotiated the deal to sell the conservation easement to the Town of Newtown for $2 million.

Melissa Spear, the Connecticut State Director of The Trust for Public Land, said, “Through this conservation effort, Newtown has permanently protected an historic farm that has contributed so much to the community for over 140 years. This decisive action by the town highlights the importance of local farms to our economy, our food supply, and to the character of communities in which we live. We are delighted at this outcome!”

The Ferris family stated, “We aren’t selling development rights to save the current farm business. Instead, this project is about conserving the soil. If future generations of the family decide not to farm, we can rest assured that the land will be available – forever – to someone that does want to farm it.”

Under the terms of the conservation easement now held by the town, the Ferris family will continue to run the farm and carry on her family’s legacy of farming in Newtown. The property can never be developed or converted to non-agricultural uses. The two million dollar cost to the Town to protect the property was defrayed by a $500,000 grant from the State’s Open Space grant program.

The Ferris family added, “The aesthetic value of the of the farmstead remains – it’s hard to put a dollar value on that. It’s a win-win situation all around!”The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization which works with others to conserve land for people to enjoy as working landscapes, parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has protected over 5,000 acres of open space, watershed land, working farms and forestland, and historic resources in 32 communities across the state.