Build Your Network – December 9, 2014


SCOUT HALL YOUTH CENTER Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
PROGRAM: 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Come join us for a day of learning about key programs and resources that are available to new and beginning farmers in Connecticut. Network with service providers and other farmers. Highlights include:

  • Introducing New Farmer Bucket List
  • Panel of experienced farmers explain which service providers have helped them get started
  • Review most relevant financing and risk management opportunities
  • Premiere screening of 4 short videos about new farm businesses in Connecticut that are succeeding
  • Two breakout sessions led by innovative and successful farmers
  • Lunch featuring CT-­‐Grown

More details available at

Download a PDF of the flyer here.

Photos from the Darling Farm Tour

Chicken coop at Darling Farm

Darling Farm Tour September 2014

Darling Farm

Saturday September 20th
4-6 pm farm tour
6-7:30 pm potluck (bring a dish to share and your own plate/utensil/drinking glass)

1907 Litchfield Turnpike, Woodbridge, CT 06525Go To Google Maps

Darling Farm

Darling Farm

Darling Farm is a small mixed vegetable farm nestled at the base of West Rock Park in Woodbridge, CT. The farm was started in 2012 by Aaron and Caitlin Taylor upon becoming the caretakers at the Thomas Darling House, a historic homestead owned by the Town of Woodbridge and managed by the Amity and Woodbridge Historical Society. In 2014, Rachel Berg joined Darling Farm as the third partner and farmer. The DF team is committed to growing a diverse set of produce, thereby providing an alternative to our disastrously monocultured food system, introducing customers to ever-increasing variety, and challenging themselves to grow exciting, rare, and unique food. As a NOFA pledge farm, DF is also committed to developing and establishing methods and practices that are sustainable on every level: for the environment, the community, the consumers, and the farmers.

The farm expanded from a quarter-acre market garden in their first year to growing an acre of vegetables, added another full-time farmer, and developed an increasing market presence. Aaron, Caitlin, and Rachel will discuss the process of starting up a farm business with limited resources, the trials and tribulations of years one through three, and the lessons they have learned thus far from the process. Attention will be given to crop plan refinements, market development, on-farm processes, and overall decision-making.

Darling Farm
1907 Litchfield Turnpike
Woodbridge, CT 06525

The 2014 farm tour series is sponsored in part by USDA’s Risk Management Agency.

Photos from the Cato Corner Farm Tour

Cato Corner Waiting for Feed

Cato Corner Farm Tour August 2014

Sunday August 17th
4-6 pm farm tour
6-8 pm potluck (bring a dish to share and your own plate/utensil/drinking glass)

178 Cato Corner Road, Colchester CT 06415Go To Google Maps

Cato Corner Farm

Cato Corner Farm

One of New England’s premier hard cheese makers, Cato Corner Farm is a partnership between Elizabeth MacAlister and her son Mark Gilman. Liz has owned the farm for more than 30 years and began milking cows and making cheese in 1997 as a way to keep her farm sustainable. Liz sold a conservation easement on 31.5 acres of the farm’s pasture and grassland to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in 2006 in the first phase of Cato Corner’s preservation. In 2008, the Connecticut Farmland Trust, the fiscal sponsor of NCTFA, helped Liz and Mark complete the second and final phase of preserving Cato Corner Farm. Liz donated a conservation easement on the 75-acre farm, which includes extensive pasture and woodlands, a farmstead, and a farm store.

During the tour Liz will focus on the fiscal reality of a small-scale farm operation in both general terms and specifically for a grass-based dairy. Cato’s heard of primarily Jersey cows rotationally grazes and is milked twice a day for cheese production. Their cheese can be purchased at select local farmers markets, the Union Square and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarkets in New York City and many specialty stores across the country.

Cato Corner Farm
178 Cato Corner Road
Colchester, CT 06415

The 2014 farm tour series is sponsored in part by USDA’s Risk Management Agency.

Photos from the Urban Oaks Farm Tour

Mark Rutkowski Field Walk

Urban Oaks Farm Tour – July 2014

Urban Oaks Farm

Sunday July, 27th 4pm-6pm, with potluck to follow
207 Oak Street, New Britain CT 06051 Go To Google Maps

Urban Oaks Farm

Please join The New CT Farmer Alliance for our July 2014 Farm Tour.

Join Farmers Mike Kandefer, Mark Rutkowski, and Joey Listro for a farm tour of one of Connecticut’s first urban farms.  We’ll tour five greenhouses used for year-round growing and learn about how the farm maximizes use of this space year-round.  Mike will discuss the organic seedling sale, one of the largest income generators for the farm, and how it has grown over the years. The farmers will discuss the challenges of growing in small spaces, serving a low-income community, and maintaining aging infrastructure.  They will also discuss their wholesale niche of serving speciality and heirloom produce to farm-to-table restaurants and their love for growing exotic grapefruits, avocados, limes, and figs in our greenhouses.

The mission of Urban Oaks is to nourish the communities of Greater New Britain with high-quality produce accessible to all; education and employment opportunities; and economically viable, progressive, organic farming methods that promote and provide sustainable, ecologically sound agriculture in an urban environment.

Urban Oaks began in 1999, when the City of New Britain invited Mike Kandefer and the late Tony Norris to take over the abandoned Sandelli Florist.  They have always placed an emphasis on farm-based education, providing schools and community members educational tours and programs at the farm, and serving countless volunteers throughout the years.

More information about Urban Oaks can be found at:

Photos from the Starlight Gardens Tour

Starlight Gardens SignThe New CT Farmer Alliance toured Starlight Gardens in Durham CT, hosted by gracious farmer, David Zemelsky. David farms on 3 acres using a variety of tools and techniques familiar to many growing intensively on small acreage. David showed us some of his favorite hand tools on his farm that he uses for seeding and weeding. His use of high tunnels for year-round production of vegetables is well known and has been documented in a case study done by Ted Blomgren and Tracy Frisch. (The full document is published by the University of Vermont’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture.) As you may know, Starlight Gardens suffered devastating losses of their original high tunnels during the last two winters when CT experienced heavy snow storms. Although the original tunnels had gothic style roofs, the tunnels did not shed the heavy wet snow and the roofs caved in at the bend where it meets the side wall. If you want to see the sad photos of the aftermath of the Blizzard of 2013, check out David’s site. Since then, he has rebuilt all the high tunnels, and on the advice of an engineer, added additional bracing to support the tunnels at this weak point. The bows are spaced 4 feet apart. David is still not completely convinced that this will be enough to withstand the next freak blizzard of the century, but hopefully they will. He has some tunnels oriented north/south and two oriented east/west, and based on his experience, he finds that the east/west tunnels work better. David grows a fantastic salad mix during the winter in his high tunnels, and grafted heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers during the summer. He is also trying ginger in one of his tunnels this year. Yes, you can grow ginger here in CT.

We had an opportunity to help David scout for insect pests among his robust, flowering potatoes. In exchange for helping him squish potato beetle larvae, we learned how to identify this infamous pest of potatoes, plus ladybug larvae and several other beetles like a spotted potato beetle trying to pass as a lady bug. It is not your friend. We did not find a big infestation of bad bugs and his potatoes looked really healthy. He hills them several times using leaf mulch. Also in his fields, he demonstrated how he germinates lettuce in the heat of the summer. He direct seeds the lettuce in a section that gets morning sun but no direct afternoon sun. Then he covers the row with shade cloth and keeps it moist with irrigation. In between the rows of chard, we could see the tiny lettuce germinating nicely.

Photos from the True Love Farms Tour

Starlight Gardens Farm Tour – June 2014

Sunday June, 29th 4pm-6pm

Using Hoop Houses for Profitability with David Zemelsky
Starlight Gardens
54 Fowler Avenue, Durham CT 06422 Go To Google Maps


Please join The New CT Farmer Alliance for our June 2014 Farm Tour.

David is one of the first farmers in the region to use season extension techniques with hoop houses. Utilizing several hoophouses, he sells year round to restaurants and through farmers markets. After major structural collapses during the blizzard of 2013, David starting rebuilding through funding provided by the state of CT and just keeps on growing!

After the tour stay for a potluck social. Bring a dish to share and a plate, utensils and drinking glass. Meet other farmers in CT to network and share ideas, stories and challenges!

Information on Starlight Gardens can be found at:

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