To the Editor:

In 2006, the newly-established New Milford Farmland Preservation Committee (NMFP) identified and voted to work with those farmers who were interested and the town on preserving as working farms six contiguous properties in the eastern part of town.

These have come to be known as the Ridge Road farms. The farms are the former Chapin, Davenport (formerly Syskie), Harris Hill, Kimberly and Reimer farms.

A year later, the Nejame property (the former Kozieniski farm) was added to NMFP's wish list.

Together they comprise approximately 1,100 acres; and more importantly, more than 50 percent of the soils are of the highest quality agricultural soil, as classified by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

According to Tim Abbott, the director of the Litchfield Hills Greenprint, "This block of farms is one of the best clusters of contiguous farmland remaining in Litchfield County and one of just six to eight that remain of sufficient size and quality to have a chance of remaining a viable farming community."

The Chapin farm has been purchased by a single individual who has continued to allow a local farmer to graze his herd on it.

NMFP has worked for more than a year with the Davenport family to place their farm on the queue with the state to permanently preserve the development rights to their farm. This would mean the farm, which is presently in active agricultural production, will never be developed residentially, but will continue as a working farm.

The town is also hopeful of working with the Harris family to permanently preserve their farm, a lively memory for the thousands of our school kids who have taken trips there.

Our goal, as previously stated, is to work in conjunction with the town, with Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust and with our fellow residents (2,400 of whom have signed our petition urging the town to save our surviving farms) and preserve them all as working farms.

If you have no farmland, you have no farmers -- and no local food.

On Sept. 12 from 2 to 8 p.m., NMFP, in partnership with Plow-to-Plate, Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust and the New Milford Youth Agency, will sponsor a family farm day at the Harris Hill Farm to raise awareness of and interest in saving the Ridge Road farms as working farms.

We invite the whole town to come and enjoy some family time. As you travel along the roads that surround the farm, you will see a lot of residential development, but you will also garner an appreciation of how sweeping an area these farms comprise.

See farming at work in your town and witness the beauty that this agricultural landscape provides. For information, please visit www.saveridgeroadfarms.org.

Steve Kleppin

Farmland Preservation

Committee vice-chair

New Milford