Allen and Becky Clark have been farming for 17 years. When they started their small business, they grew flowers, pumpkins and corn stalks. Four years ago, they began raising goats for milk and cheese and eventually started making soap as well. The Clarks had long wanted to expand their farm but couldn’t afford the high cost of land. But thanks in part to the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), they recently realized their dream.
The Bushy Hill Orchard in Granby, Connecticut, had been farmed for more than 30 years by a family that could no longer maintain the 70-acre farm but wanted to ensure that it would remain in agriculture. FRPP partnered with the Farmland Preservation Program of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DOAG) to help the Town of Granby and the Granby Land Trust purchase the development rights to the land, thereby preserving it as farmland.
With the development rights paid for, the orchard could later be sold for its agricultural land value rather than its inflated real estate or commercial potential, making the orchard affordable for the Clarks.
With the acquisition of Bushy Hill Orchard, the Clarks added apples, peaches, pears, raspberries and blueberries to their crops. They offer pick-your-own opportunities and now have a kitchen to create baked goods, cider and other value-added products to sell at the farm store and at local farmers markets.