Journal Inquirer

Oct. 26, 2016

HEBRON — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday traded in his Dockers for denim while visiting the Mapleleaf Farm on Route 85 to speak with its owner, Ned Ellis, about the state’s farmland preservation program.
Malloy was welcomed by representatives of the Department of Agriculture and members of the Farmer’s Cow — a consortium of six family-owned farms that sells milk, ice cream, and other products and advocates for Connecticut agriculture.
Ellis guided Malloy and others around Mapleleaf’s facilities, which house over 500 cows and include 450 acres of preserved land.
The Ellis family has owned the dairy farm since 1903, and Ned Ellis took over the business in 1967. Along with using progressive environmental practices, Ellis has been a long-time supporter of land preservation in the state.
Ellis has served as a member of the New England Dairy Promotion Board and Very Alive, an advocacy group for Connecticut agriculture.
He thanked the governor for using at least $5 million in 2014 under the Community Investment Act, or CIA, to assist towns, cities, and land trusts to secure open space.
“The CIA funds have meant a great deal,” Ellis told the governor. “You don’t know how much.”
Farmer’s Cow members from Cushman Farms in Franklin, Hytone Farm in Coventry, and Hills Farm in Thompson also expressed gratitude for the program.
Ellis also lauded the Farm Viability Grant, a competitive matching-grant program for municipalities, regional planning organizations, and agricultural nonprofits. The program’s maximum grants of $49,999 support projects that fund local land use, advertising for local agriculture, and establish local farmers markets, among others.
“There’s a lot of young people who want to get into farming, but they can’t afford it because it’s so capital-intensive,” Ellis said. “These programs can help support that.”
Malloy said he is proud to stand by local farmers, as farming is vital to the state’s culture and history.
“Supporting our local food sends a message of who we are and what we are,” Malloy said. “I’m glad we were able to work on this together.”
Preserving farmland is crucial because the open space will be protected forever, he said. Malloy added there are additional funds for land preservation if needed.
“I would put more into restoration if we needed it,” he said. “If there are changes to that program, share it with us.”
The tour concluded with a tasting of milk and apple cider produced by Farmer’s Cow, as Malloy thanked local officials for their advocacy for open space.
“I know business is hard, being a farmer is hard, but thank God we have farmers,” Malloy said.