Center for Community Agriculture

smCENTER_for_Community_Agriculture_logo__2_.gifAn East Haddam municipal project located at 218 Mt. Parnassus Road.

2023 GARDEN PLOTS available for lease.  

Standard plots of 33’x33’ are available for $50 per year for the March 1 to Dec. 31, 2023 season.  An individual, business, farm, or organization may lease one, to a maximum of 10 plots (approx.1/4 acre).  Application, payment, and terms are managed by the First Selectman’s office.  Other details and requirements are contained in the lease agreement.  Please review and complete the forms in the  2023 CCA Farm Land Lease Package and return to the First Selectman’s office.

SEE BELOW FOR MUNICIPAL INFORMATION REGARDING THIS PROJECT - Meeting Handouts and slide presentations are available at the bottom of this page.

medCCA_5-30-14_gate_2.jpgLocation:  In June, 1998, the Open Space Trust Fund Ordinance established East Haddam’s Open Space Committee, which guides the acquisition and/or purchase of development rights of important agricultural lands and natural resource areas.  The Town of East Haddam purchased 133.55 acres of Open Space at the Harris family property in 2011.  Once a successful dairy farm, the land is classified as having prime farmland soils.  

The East Haddam Conservation Commission is charged with stewardship of the Town’s Open Space lands.  Agricultural activity and development is permitted on Open Space land provided that it is compatible with the goals of the Plan of Conservation and Development  CT General Statute CGS 7-148(c) (3) (A).  East Haddam’s Plan of C&D contains numerous references that recommend this use.  Approximately fifteen acres of the Harris property parcel are planned for agricultural use.

Project Background:  For the past several years, municipal leaders, staff, and community volunteers have reviewed the operations of community farms and food processing centers in Connecticut and beyond.  Using the goals, policies and recommendations of East Haddam’s Plan of Conservation and Development, a regional agriculture center was identified by the Board of Selectmen as a financially viable municipal project.  In early 2014, essential grant funding was secured and basic project concepts were outlined.

East Haddam’s Agriculture Commission was established in 2010 to advocate for local agriculture and serve as a conduit between non-profit agencies, civic organizations, municipal boards and commissions, elected officials and local farmers.  The East Haddam Economic Development Commission also supports the viability and growth of existing Town farm businesses and seeks to attract new agricultural businesses and related businesses to Town.

With the advice of the Town’s Legal Counsel, the First Selectman selected a Municipal Working Group format to facilitate work on this project beginning in spring 2014.  With a grant of $20,000 from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, four acres of CCA property were cleared and fenced.  Garden plots were created and the land was available for the public to lease from June 1st to Dec.1st, 2014.  The Working Group began meeting with the design/engineering company to design the facility, consulting with the Small Business Development Center and other project advisors, facilitating additional research, updating the Summary Business Plan stage I to a stage II Business Plan, preparing for operations, and communicating project updates. (Municipal Working Group Schedule and Guidelines 2014)

The vision for the Center for Community Agriculture (CCA) is as a catalyst for agricultural economic development; farm and land-based enterprises, which generate economic, social, and educational opportunities, while protecting natural resources. The initial concept for the Center for Community Agriculture was that it would include three activities:

  1. Food Production/Farming (Garden plots, High Tunnels, Greenhouse, Storage)
  2. Food Processing (Commercial Kitchen, Storage)   (This aspect was removed from the project per First Selectman fall 2014)
  3. Farm Incubator Business Program

Community, educational, economic, and environmental aspects were planned for each of these activities.  The Business Plan Summary (Stage 1), was prepared in September 2013.  Updates to the original Business Plan were planned to incorporate project progress.  The objective was for the Center for Community Agriculture to serve as the model for agricultural economic development for Connecticut small towns with limited infrastructure and the desire to grow, while maintaining the rural character of the community. 

smFarmers_Pledge_logo.jpgOrganic farming is the practice that uses natural methods for fertilization, pest and weed control.  Certified Organic is a designation in compliance with the National Organic Program standards and certified by the USDA.  The Center for Community Agriculture will follow the principles outlined by the CT Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (CT NOFA) in its Farmer’s Pledge.  (This is a separate and distinct program from USDA’s Certified Organic.)  The CT NOFA Farmer’s Pledge approach is dedicated to ecologically sound farming and gardening, and the development of local sustainable agriculture. Leaseholders will agree to sign and follow the yearly CT NOFA Farmers' Pledge.    

The Town of East Haddam received a State of Connecticut STEAP (Small Town Economic Assistance Program) Grant for $431, 200 in October 2013.  These funds are sufficient to complete a facility to house and equip a basic commercial kitchen, office and community space, and cold & dry storage.  Fellner Associates Architects was awarded the contract for design and engineering services on February 6, 2014.  

All municipal materials from the Public Informational Meetings are available for download and are listed chronologically below. The first Public Informational Forum regarding the Center for Community Agriculture project and incubator kitchen facility was held on June 25, 2014. The Commercial Kitchen facility aspects of the project were put on hold in August, 2014.  Status Press Release 8-26-14   A Public Informational Forum was held on September 25, 2014.

The First Selectman removed the commercial kitchen aspect from the project in the fall of 2014.  From Dec. 2014 to summer 2015, the Board of Selectmen worked with the Friends of Harris group to outline ideas for alternative use of the property and to repurpose the 2013 STEAP Grant funds. Two repurpose letters were sent to the State Office of Policy and Management.  A Public Informational Forum was held August 27, 2015 and Town Meeting was held on September 21, 2015.  An October 1st, 2015 Referendum related to this project has been scheduled. 

Garden Shed - A financial gift of $16,000 from Consumers Union of United States, Inc. is designated for the construction of a garden shed.  The shed will provide secure storage and have other related farm and garden features.  This part of the project is currently in the design process and on hold until the design of the main facility is determined.

PHASE 2 - Additional grants and funding for land clearing, fencing, high tunnels, greenhouse, and cold storage units is on hold until the design of facility and project vision are determined. 

Interested?  Want to know more?  Contact the Selectmen's Office, attend Public Informational Forums and/or check back here for posted materials & updates.  Click here for notice of October 1, 2015 REFERENDUM related to this project.

Handouts from Public Informational Forums and Other Municipal Information:

Presentation Slides 6/25/14
Cover Page & Business Plan Summary (7/30/14)
2013 STEAP Grant Application Packet (distributed summer 2014)
Public Informational Forum Handout Packet 9/25/14
2013 STEAP Grant Repurpose Letter Packet 2/4/15
2013 STEAP Grant Repurpose Letter Packet 3/5/15
Public Hearing Presentation Slides 8/27/15
Town Meeting Handout Packet 9/21/15
Notice of October 1, 2015 Referendum
Explanatory Text regarding 10/1/15 Referendum
Harris Property Soil Sampling Report
UCONN Soil Nutrient Analysis