Thirteenth Generation Dairy Farm in Voluntown Begins Journey to Preservation
[HARTFORD, CT] - Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT), in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg), is pleased to announce completion of the first phase of a multi-year project to preserve Gallup Farm, a 500-acre dairy in Voluntown. The large property is being protected in a joint effort by partners USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Services (USDA-NRCS), CT DoAg and CFT. The first portion of the farm to be protected encompasses 116 acres.
Gallup Homestead Farm has been previously honored as a Dairy Farm of Distinction in Connecticut. The owner, Byron Gallup, is the last farmer in a line of thirteen generations of farmers. Byron has no heirs, and he is conservation-minded and wants to see the land preserved forever for the next generations of farmers. He applied to the CT DoAg's Farmland Preservation Program in 2017 with the explicit goal of protecting the land long beyond the era of the Gallup family.
To protect the land, the CT DoAg approached CFT to assist in the purchase of the farm’s development rights. CFT and the State jointly secured an Agricultural Conservation Easement Program grant from the USDA-NRCS.
The farm, which is surrounded by the 26,000-acre Pachaug State Forest and a 150-acre protected farm, is being preserved in four pieces to provide flexibility when it eventually becomes time to transfer or sell the property to the next generation of farmers. Smaller portions of land are more affordable and more practical for new and young farmers. For now, Gallup Homestead Farm will continue producing milk for wholesale.
“We’re excited to have completed preservation of the first portion of Gallup Farm. When the entire farm is preserved, there will be an impressive 650-acre block of conserved farmland in Voluntown. Large areas of contiguous farmland are key to keeping farming sustainable in Connecticut,” said Elisabeth Moore, Executive Director of CFT.
“Permanently protecting this 116-acre easement would not be possible without the stewardship of the Gallup Family, a 13th generation dairy farm in Southeastern Connecticut,” said Bryan P. Hurlburt, Agriculture Commissioner. “We recognize the importance of our state’s agricultural history and remain committed to sustaining it for future generations to come.” The Connecticut Department of Agriculture's Farmland Preservation Program was established in 1978 to protect the prime and important farmland soils in the state in order to maintain and preserve agricultural land for the future. To date the program has permanently protected more than 375 farms encompassing over 44,000 acres.
"Placing part of the Gallup Farm under a conservation easement through USDA's Agricultural Conservation Easement Program is a significant step in our mission to protect valuable working lands," said Thomas L. Morgart, Connecticut State Conservationist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. "More than half of these 116 acres contain prime, state, and locally important soils. Permanently protecting these high-yielding soils is key to helping meet Connecticut's – and the nation's – short- and long-term needs to clothe and feed a hungry world," he said. Through the NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), agricultural land easements protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply.
Agricultural conservation easements prohibit residential and industrial development but allow commercial agriculture and construction of agricultural structures on designated areas of the land. Since its founding in 2002, CFT has protected 59 family farms, covering over 4,620 acres. CFT is the only land trust in the state dedicated solely to the protection of agricultural land. CFT is a private, accredited 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on Connecticut residents to support its work. Learn more at CTFarmland.org.