Sherman to make the call on Happy Acres' future
Published 5:30 pm, Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The future of the town-owned Happy Acres Farm now rests in the hands of the Board of Selectmen and residents of Sherman.
The immediate future includes choosing a tenant farmer to run the 90-acre farm property along Route 39 North.
Six proposals were received from farmers in Sherman, the Gaylordsville district of New Milford, Kent and Brookfield.
That group has been pared to three -- Full Circle Farming, Lescynski Farm LLC and Rosie's Dairy -- via interviews held Monday, Aug. 8, open to the public.
"We were looking for certain criteria to protect the town," said First Selectman Clay Cope. "We also looked for innovative ways to utilize the farm. I think we've got three interesting proposals."
Selectwoman Andrea O'Connor noted, "We want to be sure we understand the proposals thoroughly. Some had more financial details so we got clarification Monday."
The selectmen will next choose the farm partnership to offer the lease. The proposed lease will then go to a public hearing for resident input, followed by a town meeting at a later date to approve the lease.
All three farming partnerships are interested in interacting with the town's residents through open farm days, educational programs and other events.
Full Circle Farming, a partnership of John Motsinger and Adam Mantzaris, of Brookfield, would start with the existing herd of beef cattle and steadily diversify the farm's livestock to include chickens, pigs and dairy goats.
Vegetable crops and an orchard would eventually be grown through sustainable-agriculture practices.
Non-farming enterprise would include educational programs, having overnight guests, and special events like farm-to-table dinners.
The twosome has worked on several farms in Roxbury, in Cornwall, Vt. and Maryland.
Lescynski Farm LLC, a partnership of Jeff and Peter Lescynski of Sherman, would purchase the present town-owned herd of beef cattle and incorporate it with their own 40-head herd.
Grass crops would be raised for cattle feed and sustainable-agriculture practices would be used.
All of the existing farm equipment would be leased by the Lescynskis. Both are experienced Sherman farmers.
Jeff Lescynski has been managing the farm for the town since March 2014.
Rosie's Dairy, a partnership of Desiree Ball and Ken Gladding, of Kent, would run a dairy farm on the property, eventually diversifying to include hens, dairy goats and sheep, as well as vegetables and fruit orchards through sustainable-agriculture practices.
Gladding is an experienced herdsman, cropsman and educator. Ball has been livestock farming since she was a teenager.
Both studied agriculture at Cornell University.
The full proposals by these three farm partnerships are available in email documents through the First Selectman's Office in Sherman.
Call 860-355-1139 to receive copies.