Phillips Farm Permanently Protected (CT)

SOUTHBURY, Connecticut, 12/19/02: The Southbury Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land announced today that the 97-acre Phillips Farm on Sanford Road near the Southbury-Oxford border has been permanently protected. One of the few remaining tracts of undeveloped open space in this part of Southbury, the property has been a conservation priority for years. The two nonprofits reached an agreement to purchase the farm from the Phillips family for $925,000 last April. Since then, they have raised just over a $1.1 million in public and private funds to cover the acquisition price and associated project costs, and to seed a stewardship endowment.

“I would like to thank the Trust for Public Land for their partnership in this effort. This project would not have happened without their perseverance and dedication,” said Southbury Land Trust president Tom Crider, who also served as chair of the Campaign to Save Phillips Farm. “I also want to thank the many public officials who supported the project, and the hundreds of donors who gave so generously to the Campaign. We are still working to raise an additional $80,000 for the stewardship endowment, and hope that area residents will consider a year-end gift to help us meet that goal.”

“It has been a great pleasure to work with the Southbury Land Trust and area residents to save this spectacular property,” said Elisabeth Moore, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “Phillips Farm has been a special part of Southbury for hundreds of years, and everyone’s hard work has ensured that this will remain true for generations to come.”

Author and columnist Gladys Taber, who lived at neighboring Stillmeadow, frequently wrote about Phillips Farm in her best-selling books and essays. Taber, who wrote over 50 books in all, is best known for her popular series of books and magazine columns describing life and Taber fans travel from all over the world to visit the place described in her writings.

“Saving this wonderful old farm has been a long struggle – and we never would have succeeded without the tireless work of the Trust for Public Land and the Southbury Land Trust, as well as a groundswell of support from all over Southbury,” said Anne Colby, granddaughter of Gladys Taber. “There’s clearly a deep and growing concern in this region that we must act fast to preserve our vanishing farmland and countryside, and the Phillips Farm collaboration demonstrates what we can accomplish when we pull together as a community. This is a lovely holiday gift for Southbury!”

The Southbury Boards of Selectmen and Finance seeded the campaign with a preliminary commitment of $250,000, which was given final approval by Town Meeting last October. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection awarded nearly $440,000 from its Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program, and the Federal Natural Resource Conservation Service awarded approximately $80,000 from the Farmland and Ranchland Protection Program. In addition, a total of more than $360,000 was contributed from nearly 600 individuals, businesses, and foundations in more than 25 different states and Canada.

The Southbury Land Trust will own and manage the Farm. The Town of Southbury and the State of Connecticut with both hold conservation easements over the property to permanently prohibit development and guarantee public access for low-impact recreation. In addition, the Natural Resource Conservation Service will hold an agricultural preservation easement over approximately 20 acres, currently used to produce hay and honey.

A traditional small New England farm since the early 1700s, Phillips Farm is one of Southbury’s few remaining tracts of undeveloped open space. It includes panoramic ridgeline views, extensive hiking trails, pastoral meadows, old-growth forest, and habitat for rare plant species. In addition, the farm is integral to the Sanford Road Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Southbury Land Trust, founded in 1978, is a private nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Southbury’s natural resources for the enjoyment of all present and future residents. With today’s purchase, SLT has more than 700 acres under its stewardship.

The Trust for Public Land is a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, including more than 3,000 acres in Connecticut. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs, for the third year in a row.