Farmlink program matches farmland owners, seekers, through website

The website, www.ctfarmlink.org, serves as a clearinghouse where landowners post descriptions and details of their farm for sale or lease, and those seeking land post information on what they desire.

The agriculture department’s Resource Preservation staff recently created an updated website that includes a detailed property listing, interactive property map and resource center.

There are currently more than 50 active Farm Owners and nearly 80 Seekers in the FarmLink database. The website also includes links to a variety of other resources to help new farmers get started and for current farmers to plan for the future stewardship of their land.

Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said the main goal of the program is to keep farmland in production by assisting in the transition between generations of farmers, and by giving newer farmers an outlet to find acreage.

“There is a growing number of new and beginning farmers eager to become stewards of the land, but they need land to work and a way to find it,” Reviczky  said. “As demand grows for local food and other agricultural products, this program can help sustain and expand Connecticut’s vibrant agricultural economy by providing the tools necessary for farmers and farmland owners to connect.”

Farm owners and seekers must register by completing an application, available on the website, that includes owners’ descriptions of their farm and, for seekers, the desired farmland, equipment, housing or other needs.   

The agriculture department’s Farmland Preservation office automatically receives an email with the application upon submission. Print copies of the application are also available.

Listings are updated regularly on the site, which also includes an interactive property map showing all available FarmLink properties. Seekers and owners who want more information about a specific property can contact Farmland Preservation staff at 860-713-2511 or [email protected]

Brian and Maria Hainer listed their 31-acre BriMars farm in East Haddam on FarmLink with an eye toward leasing acreage to starting farmers, or allowing use of a portion of their land in exchange for other services or labor.

The couple bought the long-dormant farm — previously owned by the Linko family — a few years ago and have been busy clearing and restoring the property for agricultural use. They now raise beef cattle, pigs and chickens for meat and eggs.

“I’ve gotten to where I am with my own two hands and a lot of blood, sweat and tears so I’m trying to make it easier for someone else to get started,” said Brian, who was previously in the auto-restoration business. “I’m open to anyone who’s willing to put the work in.”

The Hainer’s long-term plan is to build the property into a working replica of an old-fashioned farm, complete with a sawmill and blacksmith shop that would be available for use by famers as well as attracting tourists.

Brian has already dug and poured the footings for the blacksmith’s forge, and secured a giant wood-fired steam engine built in 1927 that will power the enormous circular blade for the sawmill.

“This is going to be a glimpse of an early 1900s working farm,” Brian said as he toured the property last week in a 1947 Willys Jeep he has restored. “And when I’m gone it will be here in perpetuity. I don’t ever want houses or anything here.”

Other examples of current listings on the FarmLink site include:

• Watertown:  Farm located in the beautiful rolling hills of Litchfield County. It is 73+ acres of undeveloped farmland comprised of pastures and woodland that has been actively farmed. It contains both flat and gently sloping terrain. There are dirt roads for access. Several water sources; 3+ wells, running stream and small pond. Approximately 40+ acres are farmable with the rest being woods and wetlands. There are no buildings.

• Ashford: Small acreage (3 acres) available in Ashford with lovely updated 4-5 bedroom furnished 1700s house. Conveniently located on Rte. 44 and within a few miles of several successful farmers’ markets. Looking for a short term lease with possible partnership in future. Barn with four padded stalls and 3 partially-fenced fields that could be used for horses, goats, sheep or other livestock and/or organic farm products. A greenhouse is attached to the house and is plumbed, electrified and can be heated but has not been used in years.  Live-in possibility for the right person or people.

• Easton: Connecticut agritourism business seeking couple or farm family with long range goals. Thirty-acre pick-your-own orchard, strong farm market with bakery, florist and five-acre animal park, well known throughout southern Connecticut and New York City. Applicants should have pomological and business backgrounds, mechanical knowledge, college education and be very people-oriented. Owners will retire in several years and will entertain a long term lease of land, buildings, and equipment to the right entrepreneur. Large farmhouse available.

The FarmLink program is funded exclusively through the Community Investment Act. The agriculture department also works closely with organizations like New England Farmland Finder, Connecticut Farmland Trust, Land for Good, and UConn Extension to promote the FarmLink Program.

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