George D. Pratt Jr. thought ahead and recognized the benefits of preserving forests and agricultural land.

He donated land in Bridgewater and New Milford in a series of transfers from 1973 to 1979, with the goal of preservation, according to Wayne Woodard, preserve manager at Sunny Valley Preserve.

Pratt, who lived in Bridgewater, purchased several farms and pieced them together on what is now Sunny Valley Lane in New Milford over a period of 30 or 40 years.

"He turned over all property to a group" then in its infancy at the time, said Woodard of Pratt's gift to the Nature Conservancy. "Everything -- locks, stocks and barrels. He wanted it farmed if possible so you could work the land, but he wanted it protected, too."

One of the conditions of his gift was that three farms -- Sunny Valley Farm in New Milford and Drumlin Farm and Schaghticoke Farm in Bridgewater -- be kept as active agricultural parcels for as long as possible.

That wish is fulfilled today, and two other farms are active, too. The farmers grow diverse crops and provide locally-grown food to help enhance the economy of the community.

-- Deborah Rose