Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust, which serves the Greater New Milford area, was recently awarded the 2017 Working Lands Alliance Pathfinder Award as Education Leader for contributions in educating the public about the importance of farmland preservation.

The Working Lands Alliance, a project of American Farmland Trust, is the statewide voice for farmland preservation efforts in Connecticut and includes farmers, land trusts, local food advocates, and anti-hunger organizations.

Established in 2003, the Pathfinder Awards were designed to recognize individuals and groups that have significantly advanced farmland preservation through leadership, advocacy, planning and education.

Award winners over the last 14 years have included municipalities, land trusts, farmers, town boards, and many individuals and groups who have shown a commitment to protecting vital farmland in Connecticut.

For over 50 years, Weantinoge has prioritized conservation of working farmland throughout Litchfield County.

Today, Weantinoge conserves 28 working farms covering 1,600 acres that support the local economy and produce hay, vegetables, dairy and beef cattle, pigs, sheep, fruits, maple syrup, and more.

Each of the 11 fee-owned farms are leased to farmers at no or low-cost, providing much needed affordable farmland to over a dozen farmers and their families.

Working farms support the local economy and tourism is one of the leading business sectors in northwest Connecticut, with rich agricultural heritage, natural landscapes, and locally-grown products attracting visitors. Weantinoge farmers contribute to Connecticut’s agricultural economy, which generates between $3.3 and $4.0 billion a year.