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Visitors can get a taste of what farm life was like hundreds of years ago at Bushnell Farm in Old Saybrook. (Photo by Susan Lambert/Zip06.com )
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The area has a rich history in farming, dating back to the 1600s when Connecticut was first settled and there are many farms in the area whose families have been working the land for generations. Today, a handful of these farms are still functioning, offering not only farm-fresh produce and products and pick-your-own opportunities, but a chance for families to get a glimpse into farming life.
In addition to having a chance to be exposed to historic buildings and open spaces, many of the area farms offer other family fun as well. There is everything from on-site dining and ice cream to farm-made wine, educational classes to special events, and farmers markets to farm shops. Those who love animals are in luck as most of the local farms are home to farm animals from sheep and llamas to chickens and ducks and even bees.
There are several areas that were once working farms, but are now community spaces. Many of these farms are home to original buildings and structures and offer trails for walking, biking, and horseback riding.
Here's a rundown of some of the local farms in the area and what you can expect when you visit.
33 Branford Rd., North Branford
At Rose Orchards you can visit with farm animals, enjoy lunch from Buck's Grill followed by frozen custard and frozen yogurt from the creamery, or shop for farm-fresh produce, baked goods, and farm toys at the farm market. Various seasonal pick your own fruits include apples, strawberries, pears, peaches, and raspberries.
1355 Boston Post Rd., Guilford
For nearly 150 years, the Bishop family has farmed in Guilford, selling its bounties to the community. Now the farm market offers all kinds of groceries from meats and cheeses to baked goods and grab and go meals and, of course, farm-fresh produce. The pick-your-own season runs from June to October with berries, peaches, pears, apples, and pumpkins. Outside of the farm market, you can visit with animals. Bishop's is also a stop on the Connecticut wine trail as a Connecticut Farm Winery.
318 Roast Meat Hill Rd., Killingworth
With more than 10,000 lavender plants on 25 acres, there are photo opportunities galore at Lavender Pond. In addition to the sprawling purple fields, there is a covered bridge and a path around the pond for lots of pic-worthy moments. You can visit with the farm dog Flora, flocks of chickens, and see hives of bees. The LPF Express, a purple train, can give you a tour of the property, which also has a still to create essential oils and a shop with all things lavender.
2351 Durham Rd., Guilford
Since 1847, Dudley Farm has operated in Guilford and it remains true to its roots, operating as it did in the 19th century. In addition to farm animals, it is home to a farm museum that offers tours of the historic farmhouse and an exhibit on the Dawnland Collection with artifacts of the area's indigenous people. On Saturdays throughout the summer, there is a farmers' market offering homegrown and handmade items, as well as special events. There are three barns on the property and the grounds connect to hiking trails.
Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook
This 22-acre privately owned property has many examples of farm life from centuries past. There is a post and beam farm house that was built in 1678 – it is one of the five oldest houses in Connecticut. The property also has stone walls and five other farm buildings, including a barn from the 1700s that has historical agricultural equipment. Over the 200 years of the Bushnell family's farming career, there were a number of trades that are represented today, including a blacksmith forge that was recently restored to working condition, a loom house with spinning equipment, and a country store. The caretaker's cottage is home to educational programs.
465 CT-81, Killingworth
Open daily, visitors to Parmalee Farm can enjoy 132 acres of fields and trails – there are six trails ranging in length and difficulty. In addition to hiking, Parmalee Farm grounds are home to an 18th-century farmhouse, stone barn, pavilion, historic schoolhouse, corn crib, and sugar shack. The farm hosts events such as tag sales, car shows, concerts, and an Artisan Market. Community garden plots are available as well as educational workshops.
Bauer Park Farm
245-323 Copse Rd, Madison
In 1990, Erwin Bauer gifted his 64-acre farm to the Town of Madison. Since then, Bauer Park has been home to community gardens and a wide variety of classes and events for educators, children, adults, and families. There are trails throughout the property where visitors are free to walk along the pond, through the covered bridge, and past the original farmhouse.
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