Danbury family saves more land as open space

Dick and Carolyn Ruffles, the groom's parents, agree.

"It is so nice to look out in the morning and see the land," Carolyn Ruffles said.

On Friday, the two ensured that people in the city will see the Ruffles farm -- the fields, stone walls and wetlands. The two signed a conservation easement that will preserve 13 of their 19 acres as open space, with the Land Trust of Danbury holding the easements.

Their decision follows that of Roy Ruffles -- Dick's brother -- and Roy's wife Cindy. Earlier this month, they signed a similar easement that preserved 17 acres of their land on the other side of West King Street. In all, the Ruffles family has preserved about 30 acres of beautiful farmland in the city's northwest corner, near the New York line -- land that is increasingly valuable as the state's grasslands are swallowed by development or grow back to woods.

The land is part of the 100-acre dairy farm once owned by the Ruffles' grandfather, Frederick Ruffles.

"All my life, I've worked this land with my father and my grandfather, fixing the walls, taking care of the fields," Dick Ruffles said. "I think you don't get a feeling for land unless you've worked it."

But, living, raising a family and now, tending a herd of llamas and alpacas on it -- not to mention Duke, a miniature horse and Jerry, a burro -- the Ruffles became concerned about its future. Seeing houses pop up around them, they decided to preserve their open space.

"Our lawyer said 'You have to make a choice. Do you want to be a millionaire or a pauper?' " Dick Ruffles said. "You can see what we chose."

But the city will be richer for their choice.

"Look at how they've protected the habitat, the wildlife and plants," said Bill Montgomery, president of the Land Trust of Danbury. "How can you put a dollar figure on that?"

Contact Robert Miller

at bmiller@newstimes.com

or (203) 731-3345.