Connecticut Department of Agriculture

Partner Testimonials

boy eating from a bowl outside with another little boy behind himPartnerships are at the foundation of Extension’s work statewide in all 169 towns and cities of Connecticut. We integrate with agencies and non-profits in communities in a variety of ways.

“Our partnerships strengthen Extension, and in turn increase our statewide impact. Our innovative collaborations allow Extension and our partners to reach respective goals together.” ~ Mike O’Neill, Associate Dean and Associate Director, UConn Extension

“For the benefit of Connecticut farmers, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture collaborates with UConn Extension across many disciplines. From FSMA Produce Safety Rule education and outreach that expand market opportunities to Viability Grant funding of crucial research done by Extension educations, our strong partnership will help to sustain and foster innovation for agriculture in our state.” ~ Bryan Hurlburt, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture

“The Master Gardener Program has provided significant value to the Bartlett Arboretum for many years. We rely on Master Gardeners to support our community outreach in so many different ways. Examples of their contribution include Master Gardener availability in Plant Clinic from May through September of each year to address homeowner plant problems and issues. Master Gardeners conduct visitor tours of our gardens and our champion and notable trees. They provide Arboretum management with ideas for plants in our gardens. All of these activities enhance the visitor experience at the Bartlett Arboretum and further its mission.” ~ S. Jane von Trapp, CEO, Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens in Stamford

“The information and assistance provided by CLEAR has enabled our town to save resources while complying with the requirements of the MS4 Permit. The template for the stormwater management plan alone saved us a significant amount of money by allowing staff to complete an acceptable plan in a minimal amount of time.” ~Warren Disbrow, Assistant Town Engineer, East Hartford

“We are grateful to partner with SNAP-ED and EFNEP to ensure the people we serve not only have access to nutritious food but also have opportunities to participate in evidence-based nutrition education. In food insecurity programs we can bring healthy food, and a pantry shopping experience directly to schools, senior centers and other community-based organizations. Through partnerships with SNAP-ED and EFNEP clients can learn, sample healthy recipes and then apply new skills to shopping.” ~ Jaime S. Foster, PhD, RD

“The Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) found a great partner in UConn Extension as we rolled out the Best Practices in Economic Development and Land Use Program that really asks, ‘How do we do our jobs better?’ In economic development in Connecticut we face a fiercely competitive landscape for jobs and investment. How we compete as a state matters, but at the end of the day, a company locates in a community. We want our communities to be as well-prepared as possible, and that’s something that UConn Extension’s programs in Community & Economic Development is doing every day. CEDAS offered the3platform to create a set of standards and the UConn team helped add the details. More importantly, they were the support to our communities that wanted to get better. We can all want to do a better job at local economic development, but if3there’s not someone there coaching and mentoring us along we’re not going to get there. UConn Extension was the helping hand that truly pulled our communities through the process and in the end, raised our standards for economic development in Connecticut.” ~ Garret Sheehan, CEcD, President Connecticut Economic Development Association, President and CEO Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce

Project Expands Support for CT Shellfish Industry

Marc Harrell

Connecticut shellfish farmers who endured severe sales losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic are being offered the chance to earn income by working on a unique project to rehabilitate the state’s natural shellfish beds.

The project, developed by Connecticut Sea Grant and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, will employ shellfish farmers with vessels normally used to harvest oysters to instead raise and relocate oyster shell buried in silt and other materials off the bottom of the beds. The exposed oyster shell would then provide the preferred habitat for oyster larvae. The shellfish farmers would be compensated for a portion of their hours worked.

The project is the second phase of a three-part initiative to support shellfish farmers hurt by sales losses to restaurants and other key customers. At the same time farmers are being assisted, the natural shellfish beds that are the main source of oyster seed for Connecticut’s commercial and recreational beds will be restored to greater productivity. The natural beds span about 7,000 acres offshore in areas mainly from West Haven to Greenwich.

“We are pleased to have been able to secure new funds to support the aquaculture industry, using innovative avenues to provide some short-term cash flow for work that will enhance the productivity of natural beds in the future, with associated economic and ecological benefits,” said Sylvan De Guise, director of Connecticut Sea Grant.

Connecticut Sea Grant and the state Department of Agriculture collaboratively received $74,999 in federal funds from the National Sea Grant Office to fund the project, which is being supplemented with $50,474 worth of in-kind services. During the first phase of the project that began on May 6, shellfish farmers have been working on different areas of the natural beds than are being targeted in the second phase.

A third phase of the project, which would begin pending approval of additional federal funding, would compensate farmers for shellfish that have grown too large for consumer markets. Those shellfish would then be planted on closed portions of state and town shellfish beds across the state to repopulate those areas.

“Over the past four weeks, more than one dozen shellfish companies have actively rehabilitated the state’s public shellfish beds during phase one of this project plan,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “The implementation of phase two within the next week will enable continuation of this critical work in shallower areas and provide producers with compensation through our collaboration with Connecticut Sea Grant.

“These efforts are crucial to ensuring the future sustainability of the state’s shellfish industry through enhanced management of Connecticut’s public seed beds and facilitating availability of oyster seed to the entire industry,” Hurlburt said.

The Department of Agriculture will continue to document the enhancement achieved through the rehabilitation efforts using a combination of vessel monitoring system data, landings reporting and via the deployment of an underwater video camera. The camera footage would document bottom conditions of those areas that have been worked versus baseline conditions in areas of the beds that remain untouched. Staff intend to document long-term recovery of beds by assessing conditions and oyster recruitment levels on project areas in subsequent seasons. The information will be used to develop best management practices for the natural oyster seed beds to achieve maximum production of oyster seed there in the future.

Shellfish companies interested in participating in the program should submit their request via email to David Carey, director of the Department of Agriculture Bureau of Aquaculture, at: David.Carey@ct.gov.

Original Post: https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2020/06/04/project-expands-support-for-ct-shellfish-industry/

Supporting Connecticut’s Shellfish Industry During COVID-19

SUPPORTING CONNECTICUT’S SHELLFISH INDUSTRY DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Phased Response to Rehabilitate Natural Beds

Marc Harrell
Marc Harrell, manager of Mystic Oysters, checks on brood stock at the Noank Shellfish Cooperative on Thursday. Although most of the co-op is shut down, the brood stock tanks had to be maintained. “This is our future, so we have to keep this going,” Harrell said. Judy Benson / Connecticut Sea Grant

(HARTFORD, CT) – The Connecticut Department of Agriculture is collaborating with state and federal partners on the development of a phased response to support shellfish farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The innovative program will enable shellfish farmers to contribute to the rehabilitation of the state’s natural shellfish beds, and to receive compensation for their work, which will occur in two distinct phases. This work highlights the importance of the partnership between the Department and Connecticut Sea Grant to provide assistance to the industry during a critical time.

“Ongoing close relationships and coordination between the Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Sea Grant, and industry members allowed for a quick assessment of needs and pooling of capacity and resources for what in my opinion represents a response that is both quick and thoughtful, for the short and medium term”, said Sylvain De Guise, director of Connecticut Sea Grant. “From discussions with colleagues in the region, Connecticut is ahead of neighboring states in responding to the needs of the shellfish aquaculture sector”, he added.

Six areas of focus have been identified by the department, totaling approximately 7,000 acres. The areas are located from West Haven to Greenwich in order maximize participation by shellfish companies. Specifically, the natural bed areas are Flatneck Point Greenwich, Fish Island Natural Bed Darien/Norwalk, Fairfield Natural Bed, Bridgeport/Stratford Natural Bed, Offshore Housatonic River and West Haven Shoal Natural Bed. All of these beds are in need of rehabilitation in order to return them to productive seed oyster producing assets.

“As Commissioner, I have granted access to Connecticut’s public shellfish beds for the specific purpose of the work proposed in this project,” said Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “This addresses the emerging economic impacts resulting from COVID-19, while simultaneously addressing one of the key recommendations identified in the Connecticut Shellfish Initiative Vision Plan to rehabilitate the state’s public shellfish beds.”

Phase One, the rehabilitation of designated portions of natural beds using hydraulic clam dredges, is targeted to begin May 6, 2020 with more than one dozen participants registered and more anticipated.

Phase Two is slated to start June 1, 2020 utilizing federal funding through a project submitted by the Department and Connecticut Sea Grant. This phase will allow shellfish farmers to rehabilitate shallower portions of the natural bed. Upon approval of funding, this phase of the program will allow participating companies to be compensated for a portion of their hours worked.

The Department will document enhancement achieved through the rehabilitation efforts using a combination of the VMS data, landings reporting, and via the deployment of an underwater video camera to document bottom conditions of those areas that have been worked versus baseline conditions in areas of the beds that have not been worked. Staff intend to document long-term recovery of beds by assessing conditions and oyster recruitment levels on project areas in subsequent seasons. The information will be used to develop best management practices for the management of natural oyster seed beds to achieve maximum production of oyster seed in these beds in the future.

By rehabilitating the state’s public shellfish beds, the Department hopes to facilitate the availability of oyster seed to the entire industry, ensuring the future sustainability of the state’s shellfish industry.

Shellfish companies interested in participating in the program should submit their request via email to David.Carey@ct.gov.

Department of Agriculture Soliciting Wholesale Product Availability

Dept of Ag logoThe Connecticut Department of Agriculture is soliciting farmers to identify product availability from May through December 2020 in response to the demand for accessible local food in light of COVID-19. This information may be used to facilitate the Farmer to Families Foodbox Program, wholesale supply chains, and other COVID-19 response efforts.

As Connecticut addresses the challenges of food systems during COVID-19, consumers have recognized the value of the local food system and are regularly choosing locally grown items for their families. To amplify that effort, we are exploring avenues to more easily connect local producers to consumers within their communities.

Through the attached survey, the Department is working to determine the potential production capacity of producers for the current growing season. Please consider your crop quantities through the end of the year and any additional resources you may need, i.e. assistance getting your product to the distribution site, additional marketing assistance, etc.

Please take the survey. Thank you for your participation.

CT Farmlink Website Improves Farmland Access for Farmers

screenshot of the homepage of the CT Farm Link websiteConnecticut FarmLink, a clearing house for the transition between generations of landowners with the goal of keeping farmland in production, is pleased to announce the launch of a redesigned website, www.ctfarmlink.org. A partnership between the Connecticut Department of Agriculture and the Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT) with funding through the Community Investment Act (CIA) is ensuring new and beginning farmers are able to more easily locate and access farmland for their business. 

“One of the top barriers for beginning farmers to getting started, or having their own business, is land access,” said Bryan P. Hurlburt, Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner. “Connecticut FarmLink lets them find available land that meets their needs and evens the playing field to finding farm properties.”

The updated website now features log-in profiles, allowing both farmland owners and farmland seekers to edit, or deactivate, at their own convenience. A filter option enables them to select what they are looking for whether it’s properties, seekers, or resources. An integrated online messaging offers instant connection between all parties and email notifications will be sent when new farmland options have been posted.

“Users will be better able to manage their own information and the redesigned site is modeled after other FarmLink websites available nationally, making it more consistent for searchers,” says Lily Orr, Connecticut Farmland Trust Conservation Associate. Orr was responsible for working with a consultant to build and transition the website to the new format incorporating feedback from users to include features they requested.

There are currently more than 70 properties listed that are looking for a farmer to keep the land in production. “Agriculture is so diverse in Connecticut, we have people looking a quarter acre up to 200 acres, everything from vegetables and greenhouses to forestland for mushrooms or maple sugaring,” says Kip Kolesinskas, consulting Conservation Scientist. “The website is a source of information offering connections to agency programs and planning for everything related to leasing, farmland preservation and succession planning.”

To learn more about farmland available in Connecticut, visit www.ctfarmlink.org, or contact farmlink@ctfarmland.org.