Old dairy farm to be used for farmers’ market

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Feb. 11, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — Fruits and vegetables could be returning to one former farm on Route 22, as the Town Council has approved the use of the land for a local farmers’ market.

The town’s new Agriculture Commission, which has been meeting since December, recently presented the idea to start up the market at the Augur property near the Police Department.

Dairy farmer Donald Augur owned the 102-acre plot until his death in 2002. The town subsequently purchased the land, which borders other municipal property, including playing fields and the Public Works depot.

The farmers’ market is still in the early stages of development, but Agriculture Commission Chairman Cliff Potter said he thinks it could get started in mid- to late summer.

The commission is planning to limit the market to North Branford agriculture.

“We want to enforce it to be North Branford farmers only as best we can because that’s who we’re supporting,” Potter said. “We want to attract the littlest farmer, the hobby farmers, as well as the big farmers or greenhouse producers.”

In addition to the farmers’ market, members of the Agriculture Commission are working to set up a “heritage farm working display” in a barn at the property. Potter said the display would show how a milking operation historically worked.

“We also want to honor Mr. Augur with all he did with his prize cows, and I think we can do that with the barn he actually raised the cows in,” he said. “When you go to Big Y or Stop & Shop and you get a gallon of milk, do the kids even know where it comes from? Have they ever seen a milking machine?”

Mayor Michael Doody, who is also a member of the commission, said he hopes the town will permanently preserve the main barn on the property, even if other municipal buildings are built in the area in the future.

He added that many of the town’s farms are located on Route 22, and the commission is hoping to set up the farmers’ market so that it will not compete with the stands that several farmers already have. Commission members have not decided how often they would like to have the market.

“We don’t want to hurt the local farmers that are already selling their goods on that road, so that’s what we’re watching out for,” Doody said.

Potter added that the market may offer coupons to encourage shoppers to visit the other farm stands in the area.

The North Branford commission is working off the model of the Guilford Agricultural Commission, which was the first of its kind in the state when it started in August 2006. Commission members plan to apply for an agricultural viability grant from the state Department of Agriculture in November. The Guilford commission has already received two such grants.

Potter said that part of the purpose of the grant could be to draw attention to farming in North Branford with signage in areas like Route 22.

“I just feel like people come up Route 22 (and) they don’t stop to smell the roses,” he said. “It’s a commuter route, the traffic’s heavy — maybe you don’t get the time to look right and look left at the beautiful land on both sides of the road.”

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