The end of 2016 brought us the best kind of gift: the opportunity to permanently protect another family farm. Before welcoming the New Year, we celebrated closing on the protection of McGuire Farm in Stonington.
The estate of William E. McGuire approached Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT) about accepting a donated conservation easement on the McGuire Farm. After their uncle’s death, William McGuire’s four heirs came together to honor his love of the land.
Best put in the words of Kristin Basso, William McGuire’s niece, the family’s motivation for protecting the land was twofold. “First, we have endeavored that the land be protected from development. My uncle often shared stores of childhood days when he and his brothers and friends would climb the surrounding hills and enjoy the idyllic view from atop a large boulder. Second, we have committed to accomplishing his desire to offer the land to small farmers as highly fertile farmland to assist them in achieving their agriculture pursuits. Our uncle was dedicated to assisting local farmers and conducted extensive research on farming techniques, including crop rotation to maintain the soil’s value.”
Susan Gavitt, another heir, added, “Our uncle was (quite!) adamant that the land should never be sold. We easily decided, without a doubt, to pursue getting it protected for him.”
The family chose to work with Connecticut Farmland Trust because of our mission to only preserve land for agricultural use, as opposed to recreational or open space uses. CFT and the family were able to work together to craft terms and conditions of an agricultural conservation easement. Demonstrating our ability to work quickly and accommodate the heirs’ desire to complete the project by the end of the year, we completed all of the negotiations and closed within two months.
The farm contains 44 acres with 94.5% prime and statewide important farmland soils. One of the four heirs will eventually take sole ownership of the farm.
This is the first project completed by CFT that is located adjacent to an unrelated, previously protected parcel. Little Pond Farm, which we protected in 2010, is right across the road in a heavily traveled area.
Gavitt expressed her family’s hope that the land “will always remain owned by a beneficiary or family and be used as a support farm.” Currently, a portion of McGuire Farm is leased by Stonyledge Farm (visit their Facebook page here). Stonyledge Farm produces and sells naturally grown, responsibly raised vegetables and meat as well as free range eggs, honey, jams, and relish.