F A R M I N G
F O O D
● L A N D U S E
● C U L T U R
Discover the Diversity
of Connecticut Agriculture
Farming history and
policy are focus of program
lYME DAIRY FARM OWNER
Jack Tiffany is one of dozens of farmers profiled in the
documentary "Working the Land."
Connecticut’s rich agricultural tradition dates to its earliest
settlement. From the first days of small subsistence farming through its
development into an economic mainstay, Connecticut farmers and the
farming way of life helped build the state, give sustenance to millions,
and provide state residents with a special sense of place.
Today, however, many say that
the future of farming in Connecticut is at risk. Others see
transformation and resurgence.
Working the Land, a new documentary
now available on DVD from
SimonPure Productions, tells the compelling story of state agriculture – from its earliest history to
its present-day diversity. The program also explores trends
affecting farming in the state and the public policy that shapes its future. Along the way, we visit many
picturesque state farms and meet the farmers who work the land and
waters of Connecticut.
actor Sam Waterston narrates the documentary.
Back in the Hay Day
Where once nearly everyone in Connecticut lived on or next to a
farm, today hardly anyone does.
In 1944, there were 22,000 farms in
the state. Today, there are 4,200. Farmers who have managed to
survive, and sometimes thrive, have done so by successfully
adapting to changes in the marketplace and in society.
The diversity and adaptability of the state's farms is a bright
sign for the future viability of Connecticut agriculture.
Nevertheless, each year more farmers go out of business and more
farmland is lost.
One factor threatening
Connecticut farms is sprawl and its
need for developable land.
The relentless and poorly coordinated development of Connecticut's rural and suburban areas has led to a startling loss of state farmland.
In recent years, Connecticut lost the highest percentage of its farmland
to development than any other state, a trend that is accelerating.
A Resurgence of Interest in Local Farming
Yet, despite these discouraging circumstances, agriculture is
still a significant part of the state economy, generating about $2 billion
with about 50,000 people working in the sector.
There are still successful egg, dairy, vegetable, fruit and tobacco
farms in Connecticut, some farmed by the same family going back
generations. They are joined by a new breed of farmer
-- from small-scale
part-timer to multi-million-dollar operator
-- who pursues innovative ways
to grow, harvest, make and sell an increasingly diverse array of farm
products. In addition to more traditional farm products, today’s
Connecticut farmer might provide consumers with
organic produce, gourmet vegetables, wine, cheese, grass-fed lamb or
in Moodus, 1950s
With an affluent
population eager for local product and easy access to New York and
Boston, state farmers have the opportunity to develop and serve a huge
consumer base. Another bright spot is the growth of agri-tourism to
wineries, pick-your-own farms and farmers' markets.
nature of farming and the beautiful landscapes infuse Working the
Land with visual material that ranges from charming to spectacular.
Archival photographs and film footage are combined with newly shot
material to help bring the story to life.
The program is produced, written and directed by
Ken Simon, executive producer
and principal at SimonPure Productions in East Haddam. Simon’s previous
historical documentaries have won three Emmy Awards and 17 nominations.
for Faith Middleton's interview with Ken Simon on WNPR.
Working the Land
is a co-production of SimonPure Productions and Connecticut Humanities
Council. It has aired several times on Connecticut Public Television and is the latest program in The Connecticut Experience documentary
series, a collaboration of CPTV and Connecticut
Humanities Council that explores themes, events and personalities from