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Phoenixville farmers, 1912

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 from SimonPure Productions, will tell the compelling story of state agriculture – from its earliest history to its present-day diversity. The program will also explore trends affecting farming in the state and the public policy issues that shape its future. Along the way, we’ll visit many picturesque state farms and meet the farmers who work the land and waters of Connecticut.

Acclaimed actor Sam Waterston narrates the documentary.

Shucking corn in Planfield, 1930s

Many state farmers will appear in the program. Click here for farmers scheduled to appear.

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 farms.

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 great 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.

Feeding chickens in Moodus, 1950s

Yet, despite these discouraging circumstances,  agriculture is still a significant part of the state economy, generating about $2 billion annually, with about 50,000 people working in agriculture.

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 plants, organic produce, gourmet vegetables, wine, cheese, grass-fed lamb or beef.

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.

The nature of farming and the beautiful landscapes will infuse WORKING THE LAND with visual material that ranges from charming to spectacular. Archival photographs and film footage will be combined with newly shot material to help bring the story to life.

The program will be 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.

WORKING THE LAND will premiere this fall. It is the latest program in The Connecticut Experience documentary series, a collaboration of Connecticut Public Television and Connecticut Humanities Council that explores themes, events and personalities from Connecticut history.

Click here for a sneak preview at www.workingtheland.com
A Co-Production of
SimonPure Productions and
Connecticut Humanities Council
Lead Funding by
Connecticut Farmland Trust
Major Funding by
Connecticut Farm Bureau
Major Funding by
Connecticut Department of Agriculture

Additional Support by

CT Agriculture Education Foundation, CT Farm Fresh,
CT Green industries Council, CT Pomological Society,
First Pioneer Farm Credit, Fowler & Huntting, Henry Lord,
and Stop & Shop.

Part of The Connecticut Experience,
a Collaboration of Connecticut Public TV and
Connecticut Humanities Council.

 


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SimonPure Productions
P.O. Box 459, Moodus, CT 06469    E-mail us    860.873.3328
Last modified: September 03, 2012