Phillips Farm Reaches Private Fundraising Goal (CT)

SOUTHBURY, Connecticut, 10/17/02: The Southbury Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land announced today that the Campaign to Save Phillips Farm has reached its private fundraising goal, raising a total of $400,000 from nearly 600 individuals, Southbury businesses, and foundations to protect the scenic 97-acre farm on Sanford Road. Tonight, Southbury Town Meeting will vote on a proposed $250,000 commitment to the project, which, combined with federal and state grants, would bring the campaign to a successful conclusion.

“The community support of the Phillips Farm campaign has been tremendous,” said Southbury resident Tom Crider, who is both chair of the Campaign to Save Phillips Farm and president of the Southbury Land Trust. “We are extremely grateful to everyone who generously donated to make this project possible.”

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 in Southbury from the 1930s through the 1970s, and Taber fans travel from all over the world to visit the place described in her writings.

“This project has touched a chord with both area residents and Gladys Taber fans,” said Elisabeth Moore, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “We have received support from not only hundreds of people in Southbury, but from residents of more than 25 different states and Canada who were introduced to this part of Connecticut through Taber’s books.”

Last April, after nearly two years of negotiations, the Southbury Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land reached an agreement to purchase Phillips Farm and launched a campaign to raise funds for the project.

The Southbury Boards of Selectmen and Finance seeded the campaign with a preliminary commitment of $250,000, which Town Meeting will vote on tonight. In April, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection announced an award of nearly $440,000 from the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program. In addition, a federal grant of roughly $80,000 looks promising. The remaining funding needed, just over $400,000, was raised privately by the Southbury Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land. If Town Meeting votes to fund the project tonight, the land trusts expect to purchase the property within the next few weeks.

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. SLT currently has 650 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 nearly 3,000 acres in Connecticut.