Celebrating National Farmer’s Day

Jiff Martin
Photo: Roxanne Pandolfi

Today is National Farmer’s Day, and here at UConn Extension, we celebrate our farmers every day. Extension professionals work statewide to help farmers improve their operations, diversify crops, and scale up their business models.

Jiff Martin is our Food Systems Extension Educator and works with agricultural producers statewide to strengthen agriculture and promote local agriculture and food systems. She developed new training and resources for beginning farmers, available through the Solid Ground program. The trainings and resources span farmland access, business planning, season extension, agricultural mechanics, marketing and more.

In 2023, Jiff and UConn Extension, in partnership with a BIPOC-led organization, E&G Community Builders introduced the Leaders of Color in Conservation (LOCC). It provided training and mentoring to eight individuals in conservation planning and common practices on small farms and included both online training and farm field days. These eight people then worked with three BIPOC farmers each, helping with conservation and natural resource goals. USDA-NRCS funded the project.

These programs are examples of the work UConn Extension does every day to support Connecticut farmers. Jiff Martin is being recognized by the USDA-NIFA and APLU Northeast Region Individual Excellence in Extension Award at the APLU Annual Meeting in November.

Congratulations, Jiff, we appreciate all you do!

Native Plants for Riparian Corridors in CT Guide Available

The Native Plants for Riparian Corridors in CT guide from Connecticut Sea Grant is now available! The guide includes native trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, sedges, reeds and herbaceous plants that can grow and thrive along bodies of water.

Download the guide at


Volunteers planting a riparian buffer.
Volunteers planting a riparian buffer. Photo courtesy of Judy Rondea

Shell recycling initiative being introduced in Connecticut

shells in a wagon
Shell collected from restaurants in Fairfield is reintroduced the Long Island Sound after several months of outdoor curing. Photo courtesy of John Short / Fairfield Shellfish Commission

Article by Connecticut Sea Grant

Empty oyster and clam shells from Long Island Sound shouldn’t be treated like trash.

They are vital components of healthy habitat for shellfish and other marine life, and need to be returned to their watery home instead of being hauled away with other garbage. That’s the message shell recycling advocates are advancing as part of a new statewide initiative.

“Virtually all the shell that goes to restaurants and markets is being discarded,” said Tessa Getchis, aquaculture extension specialist for CT Sea Grant and UConn Extension. “Connecticut is in the rare position of having some of the few self-sustaining populations of oyster beds in the world. We need to get that shell back in the water so that healthy beds remain productive, and so we can rebuild those in suboptimal condition.”

At 7:30 p.m. on April 4, Getchis will give a presentation on the history of the Connecticut oyster beds and the state’s efforts to restore this critical habitat, and UConn Marine Sciences Professor Zofia Baumann will follow with an overview of her efforts to develop a shell recycling program in the town of Groton. The shell recycling initiative is being launched as part of a broader effort to restore the state’s natural shellfish beds to preserve and enhance their vital economic, environmental and cultural contributions.

The program at the UConn Avery Point campus, titled, “Ensuring the Future Viability of Connecticut’s Natural Oyster Beds,” is part of the annual Coastal Perspectives public lecture series held in the campus auditorium. Admission is free, and the program can also be accessed virtually.

Click here to read more


Northeast Disability and Agriculture 2023 Conference Survey

Hey Farmers!

In order to help with the planning process of the Northeast Disability and Agriculture 2023 Conference Survey (Encuesta Para La Conferencia Noreste 2023 Sobre Discapacidad y Agricultura) would you please consider taking 3 minutes to fill out/ share this survey and help the steering committee (One of our local farms! ) to know what you want to see:

The aim for the conference is to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of farmers, agricultural service providers and the community. Your responses to this survey will help them design conference content, better identify gaps in disability awareness and needed services for participants. 

Nuestro objetivo para la conferencia es ser sensibles y receptivos a las necesidades de los agricultores, los proveedores de servicios agrícolas y las comunidades de apoyo. Sus respuestas a esta encuesta nos ayudarán a diseñar el contenido de la conferencia, identificar mejor las barreras en el conocimiento de discapacidades y los servicios necesarios para los participantes.

¡Por favor, llene esta encuesta y compártala con sus redes!

If you are interested in registering for the conference, fill out the form HERE.

Farmland Mixer

OUR LAST FARMLAND MIXER for the foreseeable future is coming up on DEC. 4TH.   So if you want to hear about some great land opportunities, talk about how to go about finding land, OR have some land you want to sell or lease yourself, then you should join us at our Farmland Mixer !

We already have some land opportunities already registered and are excited to share a preview below!

  • 50+ acres in Franklin for lease at the Vineyard (where the event is located)- livestock, vegetables, flowers, small fruit, hay.
  • up to 50 acres in Morris for lease- livestock, small fruit, orchard, hay
  • 200 acres in Preston for lease, partnership, or sale  dairy, field crops, other


This  FREE event will be happening at The Vineyard At Franklin on Sunday, December 4th. (931 RT-32 North Franklin, CT 06254)

There is an optional Field walk with Kip Kolesinskas from 12-1pm

Event proper will run from 1-3pm (with, of course, some great food and drink)

10 Ways to Volunteer with UConn 4-H

UConn 4-H Legends soccer group
The UConn 4-H Legends.

No matter how much time you have, volunteering with UConn 4-H makes a difference by helping youth explore and discover the skills they need to lead for a lifetime. There are lots of ways to get involved! Please note, your volunteer experience and/or opportunities may be happening virtually or in-person. Contact UConn 4-H for more information and apply to be a UConn 4-H volunteer today at

Help youth lead a club

  • Assist a youth club leader with organizing meetings, speakers, and other logistics.
  • Assist and/or mentor a 4-H volunteer who is serving as a project leader.

Teach a skill

  • Organize a club, or share your skills by teaching a club meeting workshop, devoted to your area of specialty.

Judge projects

  • Serve as a judge for 4-H exhibits, competitions or performances, providing encouragement and suggestions for improvement.

Plan or help at an event

  • Volunteer at a county/state special event; from set-up or clean-up to serving food or taking registrations, there are a lot of ways to get involved.

Serve on an advisory board/committee

  • Sit on a local advisory or county governing board to help determine program priorities.

Help with a specific 4-H project

  • Advise a 4-H member in their project work: help youth identify and set goals, create and implement a plan, and reflect on what they learned and would do differently next time.

Assist with program delivery

  • Volunteer at an after school program, a summer program, camp program event or club meeting.

Volunteer on a fair organizing committee

  • Volunteer at a local fair – be inspired by the talents and creativity of the next generation while promoting the country’s largest positive youth development organization!
  • Work in the food booth or help in the 4-H exhibit hall or at the 4-H show ring.

Utilize your professional skills

  • Share your technical skills and knowledge to develop subject matter for curriculum/project sheets.
  • Utilize your professional skills to assist with with creating marketing tools, graphic art, word documents, webpages, videos, online training modules, etc.
  • Intern at your local Extension office with the 4-H program, a great resume builder.

Share your experiences

  • Share your hobby/passion – inspire a young person as a guest speaker or short-term instructor.
  • Share your career path – invite a 4-H’er to shadow you for the day.
  • Share your educational path/give a testimonial – how did you get to where you are? (If you are a college student – how did you choose your school, what are you pursuing, what are you aspiring to do?)

Apply to be a UConn 4-H volunteer today at

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn Extension. 4-H has access to research-based, age-appropriate information needed to help youth reach their full potential through UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR). The mission of 4-H is to assist all youth ages five through 18 in acquiring knowledge, developing leadership and life skills while forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive, and contributing members of their families and communities.

UConn 4-H uses the thriving model in our Extension youth development programs, and these align with all the strategic initiatives in CAHNR. These include climate adaptation and resilience; promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion; enhancing health and well-being; ensuring sustainable agriculture and food systems; and fostering sustainable landscapes at the urban-rural interface. Learn more at

Results of CT Sheep Producers Survey

lambs looking through fence in barn
Photo: UConn

CT Sheep Survey Report Factsheet August 2022

Limitations associated with characterizing and quantifying sheep operations in the state of Connecticut present obstacles to communication, community development, and growth opportunities for producers. A survey was conducted from October 2021 to February 2022 in order to gain insight into the status and health of the Connecticut sheep industry and to identify areas of profitability in the state. The survey was distributed virtually and at the annual Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association meeting in December 2021. Sixty-six viable responses were collected and analyzed. The results of this survey will be used by the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association to establish baselines with regard to producers and sheep and will be valuable in designing and implementing timely programming and resources for Connecticut sheep producers.

Sara Tomis and (Dr.) Amy Safran, Department of Animal Science, UConn

(Dr.) Joe Emenheiser, Department of Extension, UConn

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Hyde’s Dairy Farm Named 2022 CT Outstanding Dairy Farm for New England Green Pastures

Hyde Dairy owners and employees with two cows in front of the farm signHyde’s Dairy Farm LLC in North Franklin is the 2022 Connecticut Outstanding Dairy Farm. Owner Dave Hyde and his team will be recognized at the New England Green Pastures award ceremony at the Eastern States Exposition in September. Dave’s father, Harry, helps wherever needed, Samantha Hoffman is herdsman, and there are also three part-time employees.

Dave and Harry purchased the farm in 2006 and converted an old barn into a step-in parlor with six units and automatic takeoffs. They are currently milking 55 cows and are producing 4,000 pounds of milk per day with an average 4.0% fat and 3.2% protein. Their somatic cell count is under 100,000, an indication of the high-quality milk.

Hyde’s Dairy Farm is a member of Dairy Farmers of America and keeps about 10% of their milk for Hyde’s Dairy bottling efforts. They started bottling milk because of consumer interest in locally grown in 2021. Milk is bottled at Terra Firma Farm Creamery in North Stonington, an on-farm state certified milk processing plant.

A variety of flavors are offered, including chocolate, coffee, strawberry, orange cream and caramel. Hyde’s Dairy also produces yogurts (plain, vanilla and five flavors fruit on the bottom) and seasonal eggnog. Products are sold at 13 local farmers’ markets and stores. Hyde’s Dairy offers online ordering with Barn2Door to deliver milk, meat and more direct to consumers at home. Their tagline is #milkoneverydoorstep.

“Bottling our own milk has given us the ability to donate chocolate milks to many community events and our local 4-H group,” Dave says. “We also supply milk for the Terra Firma Farm Give Gallons program, which purchases milk from local farms, pasteurizes and bottles, and then donates to the local soup kitchen. As a FFA alumni I truly believe in the future of farming and have given calves and cows to 4-Hers whenever possible.”

Cow comfort is very important at Hyde’s Dairy Farm. They use a bedded pack barn with open side feed alley, three giant fans, and cow brushes for scratching. The farm is feeding a ration with alfalfa, silage, beet pulp and straw.

The herd started with Holsteins and Dave started adding other breeds since they started bottling their milk. These include Brown Swiss, Jerseys, Linebacks, and Guernseys. The farm keeps their registered, higher genetic calves to raise and sells the other heifers to local farms.

Hyde’s Dairy Farm LLC has 130 acres. Of these, 70 are tillable and he rents an additional 30 acres for corn. The farm uses no-till seeding and custom silage harvesting.

Dave has also owned and operated a livestock transportation company for the last 20 years. It currently has four trucks that move cattle to market in the northeast. They work with many other farms in Connecticut to pick up, haul and broker livestock.

Congratulations to Hyde’s Dairy Farm LLC on their selection as the 2022 Connecticut Outstanding Dairy Farm for the New England Green Pastures award ceremony at the Eastern States Exposition in September.

Learn more about Hyde’s Dairy Farm at and the New England Green Pastures program at

Article by UConn Extension; photos courtesy of Hyde’s Dairy Farm

Shellfish Habitat Restoration

shellfish habitat
Photo: Tessa Getchis

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the aquaculture industry particularly hard. It was facing catastrophic sales losses that would have forced many out of business. Connecticut Sea Grant Extension helped keep industry members afloat during the pandemic

by involving them in shellfish habitat restoration work. We kept people working at a time when the shellfish marketplace collapsed and there was little if any revenue generated from sales. We have 46 companies in Connecticut that employ over 300 individuals. The economic impacts to these families and businesses would have been devastating. 

Part of this effort included creating a Shellfish Restoration map. We collaborated with a group of our partners and stakeholders. Industry professionals, regulators, municipal shellfish commissions, and others can use the map. Our efforts to strengthen the industry are continuing with several new initiatives. Visit for more information.

Article by Tessa Getchis

Funding Available for Connecticut Farmers

solid ground funding infographic
Farmers: If you are looking for a little help to get access to capital for your farm/market garden, or want some funds to contribute to conservation of natural resources, climate resilience, climate adaptation, or climate mitigation strategies OR help in increasing production and availability of CT Grown products UConn Extension’s Solid Ground program is making a stipend available to CT farmers in the sum of $500-$2000. Pretty great right? Just make sure you fill out the application by January 21st! Find out more info and apply HERE:
Funding provided by USDA-NIFA-BFRDA Award #2020-70017-32733