January 29, 2024 @ 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Presentations on the state of the grainshed, agronomic data, and where we see the future of Northeast grains going. Agenda topics include grain varieties in our region, local grain in schools, regenerative grain farming, and more. The symposium features speakers from local farms and the Universty of Vermont Extension.
Registration is $30 for virtual members, $50 for members and virtual non-members, and $80 for in-person non-members.
Connecticut Open House Day will be celebrated on June 10, 2023, and we’re delighted to see so many CT Grown attractions on the list of participants! Check out what’s going on at Connecticut’s farms, farmers’ markets, wineries, breweries, and distilleries during the day. Several museums and historic sites are also showcasing how agriculture has played a vital role in the state’s history.
Farms and producers
Ambler Farm, Wilton — Farmstand and Transplant Sale: Visitors are invited to check out Ambler Farm’s farmstand and transplant sale, which runs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All seeds are grown in the greenhouse using an organic, compost based, biologically active potting soil and then tended to by Ambler Farm’s farmers and dedicated volunteers.
Boho Farm, East Haddam — Open House: Visit the farm animals, walk through the garden, visit the shop, and bring a lunch to enjoy at the picnic tables. Runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bradley Mountain Farm, Southington — Walking Tours: This historic farm will offer walking tours of its trails and pastures at 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. After the tours, you can view the babies and goat families playing and relaxing.
Chakana Sky Alpacas, Chester — Visitors Welcome: Say hello to the farm’s 17 alpacas and share some treats with them. Visitors are also invited to stop by the “Pacatique” farm store. Runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Creamery Brook Bison, Brooklyn — Festival at the Farm: The Festival at the Farm features wagon rides to visit the farm’s bison, donkey rides, food trucks, craft vendors, and more. Admission is $5 per person. No dogs.
Glendale Farms, Milford — Visitors Welcome: Glendale Farms is a flower and horse farm specializing in flowering annuals and vegetable plants. The farm is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and welcoming visitors on Connecticut Open House Day.
Hogan’s Cider Mill, Burlington — Free Round of Mini-Golf: PGA golf pro Chet Dunlop and his wife Theresa Clifford Dunlop preserved this historic cider mill when they established the New England School of Golf on the back of the property, and it continues to produce sweet and hard ciders. Hogan’s Cider Mill is offering a free round of miniature golf to all visitors on Connecticut Open House Day.
Husky Meadows Farm, Norfolk — Guided Tours: Farmer Brett Ellis leads behind-the-scenes tours of the farm, including the farm kitchen and guest rooms of their Seed & Spoon Farm Stays.
Lyman Orchards, Middlefield — Free Children’s Program: Oboist Fing-Fei Khan and English hornist Charles Huang play a short concert at 10 a.m., inspired by poems, folk tales, folk songs, myths, and fables from around the world. At 11 a.m., they’ll perform an interactive concert (designed for ages 6 to 13) based on the fable of the Cricket and the Ant, teaching children the fundamental elements of music (tempo, pitch, and dynamics) through active listening, imagination, and interaction with the performers.
Smyth’s Trinity Farm, Enfield — Guided Tours: A walking tour of a fourth-generation farm that cares for a herd of 40 cows and bottles their own milk in glass. The tour visits the barns, pastures, and bottling facility.
Starberry Farm, Washington Depot — Visitors Welcome: Take a walk through this beautiful hilltop orchard and learn more about integrated pest management and tree fruit.
Stone Acres Farm/Yellow Farmhouse Education Center, Stonington — Culinary Demonstration and Tasting: The Stone Acres Farmstead provides a culinary tasting and demonstration between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., then offers a guided tour of the property from 11:30 a.m. to noon.
Strong Family Farm, Vernon — Tours and Tag Sale: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., this nonprofit community farm —the last active historic farm in Vernon — will offer tours and have a “Junk in the Trunk” tag sale. Open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., tours of the property will be held at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. No pets.
White Gate Farm, East Lyme — Visitors Welcome, and Giveaway: Visitors are invited to explore the farm’s growing fields, beehives, trails, and tractors; you can also feed the lambs, hens, and chicks. The first 15 new people spending $25 or more at the farmstand (open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) will receive a free bag of White Gate Farm’s washed organic salad greens or a similar item. Please supervise children climbing on tractors.
Litchfield Farmers Market, Litchfield — Saturday Market: The Litchfield Farmers Market will be open on Connecticut Open House Day with more than 15 vendors offering fresh local produce and goods. The market is held year-round, and this event will be the last indoor market of the season at the Litchfield Community Center.
Breweries, distilleries, and wineries
Aquila’s Nest Vineyards, Sandy Hook — Guided Tours: This vineyard and event venue is offering guided tours of the 40-acre grounds with the owner and winemaker. Tours will take place at noon and 6 p.m.
Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford — Free 4×4 Rides: Groups of up to five can enjoy a free 4×4 vehicle ride to tour the grounds of Gouveia Vineyards.
Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen — Discounts: Sunset Meadow Vineyards is offering a 10 percent discount on the purchase of 12 bottles, and is offering wine slushies for $10.
Two Roads Brewing, Stratford — Guided Tours and Vendors: Free brewery tours and taster glasses are available for visitors ages 21 and older. Two Roads Brewing will also have an outdoor vendor market and an evening concert featuring The C-Sides.
Waypoint Spirits, Bloomfield — Tours and Tastings: This distillery will be offering free tours and tastings of its Connecticut-made spirits.
Westford Hill Distillers, Ashford — Guided Tours and Discounts: Reserve a tour of this 200-acre property, New England’s first craft distillery, and enjoy a 50 percent discount on a tasting. Picnic lunches are welcome, but pets are not allowed.
Paradise Hills Vineyard, Wallingford – Discounts – Paradise Hill Vineyards, in honor of National Rosé Day, is offering a 10 percent discount on the purchase of their of Rosé selection: Washington Trail Rosé and La Bella Rosa.
Museums and historical societies
Atwood Farm Museum at Joshua’s Trust, Mansfield — Demonstrations: Learn more about 19th century farming at this historic farmstead. Demonstrations are ongoing from noon to 4 p.m.
Blue Slope Country Museum, Franklin — Free Admission: Open 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Free admission. See historical agricultural tools and implements. Learn about the many aspects of farming and rural living from 1600s to 1950s. No dogs.
Brookside Farm Museum, East Lyme — Guided Tours: This museum gives a historical view of agriculture and domestic life between 1845 and 1955. On Connecticut Open House Day, it will be offering guided tours and a chance to meet the new curator.
Cheshire Historical Society, Cheshire — Strawberry Festival and Farming History: This house museum is located on the First Congregational Church Green, which will be hosting a strawberry festival on Connecticut Open House Day. Visitors are invited to see the museum for free and learn more about the town’s farming history.
Deacon John Grave House and Grounds, Madison — Antique Farming Equipment: Guided tours of this 1685 house, its gardens, and its Native Plant Walk will be provided between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The event will also feature a hearth cooking demonstration and display of Colonial farm tools.
The Dudley Farm Museum, Guilford — Visitors Welcome: This historic homestead maintains a small working farm with chickens, flower and herb gardens, and a community garden. Visitors are invited to tour the property and check out the weekly farmers’ market, running 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Friends of the Valley Falls, Vernon — Heritage Center Opening: A nonprofit volunteer organization dedicated to improving Valley Falls Park and Valley Falls Park, Friends of the Valley Falls will debut its heritage center on Connecticut Open House Day. Explore the history of the “Gentleman’s Farm” and its historic buildings, including a stable, dairy barn, root cellar, piggery, and more.
Hands-On History & Free Family Fun, Lebanon — Agricultural Activities: Numerous hands-on activities are taking place at the Lebanon Historical Society Museum & Jonathan Trumbull Jr. House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. These include agricultural activities like grinding corn and churning butter.
Harwinton Historical Society, Harwinton — Antique Farming Equipment: The Harwinton Historical Society will be opening their 1840 one-room schoolhouse and barn to visitors, with antique farming equipment on display at the barn.
Hilltop Farm, Suffield — Open Barn Event: The Friends of Hilltop Farm welcomes visitors to explore this farmstead and its enormous white barn. Activities include a beekeeping demonstration by the Hampden County Beekeepers Association, an agriscience program on caring for chickens from Suffield Chicks, a vintage baseball game, and a scavenger hunt.
Nellie McKnight Museum, Ellington — Barnyard Babies Farm Day: Get an up-close look at baby farm animals. The museum also includes an exhibit on the farming history of Ellington. No dogs.
Shelton Historical Society, Shelton — Plant a Pumpkin Patch: Free admission from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors are invited to be a farmer for a day and help plant the pumpkin patch the old-fashioned way, then take home a seedling to nurture.
Stanley-Whitman House, Farmington — Garden Tours and Cooking Demonstrations: A historical interpreter at this c. 1720 historic house will present different styles of Colonial cooking throughout the day. The Dooryard Garden Society will also be on hand to talk about indigenous and colonial plants and how they were used for medicinal and culinary purposes.
Thankful Arnold House Museum, Haddam — Lavender Activity: Stop by this historic house and herb garden from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and learn how Widow Thankful Arnold used herbs, vegetables, and plants in her cooking, dyeing, fragrance, and medicine. Visitors will also have the opportunity to make a lavender sachet.
Windsor Historical Society, Windsor — Herb Garden Q&A: In addition to free tours, the Windsor Historical Society is presenting an “Herb Garden Q&A” from 10 a.m. to noon. Becky Hendricks, a culinary expert and herb gardener, will discuss commonly used herbs in early Connecticut.
A full list of this year’s participating organizations can be found on CT Visit.
An excuse to play dress-up, put up decorations, and eat sweet treats? No wonder we love Halloween so much.
Halloween is also a great time to throw a party, bringing together family and friends to enjoy spooky-themed dishes and see who can come up with the most creative costume. Whether you’re planning a party for little ones to enjoy after trick or treating, a fun occasion for your family, or a gathering among adults, you can find ways to make CT Grown part of the celebration.
”From CT Grown pumpkins to delicious apple cider, and even hard cider for the adults, there are many options for adding local flavor into your Halloween celebration,” says Jaime Smith, Bureau Director of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation.
Apples are one of the most well-known crops in Connecticut. More than 60 different varieties are grown in the state, with flavors ranging from sweet to tart. The 2017 Census of Agriculture, latest data from the USDA, shows that Connecticut has 280 farms growing apples on over 2,000 acres of land.
Many of these farms welcome guests to pay a visit and pick their own apples. You can find these pick-your-own locations on the CT Grown map, or visit a local farmers’ market or retail location to see what’s available.
We’ve grown plenty creative in Connecticut when it comes to apple dishes, serving up everything from breakfast dishes to apple pie. Check out this page for a full slate of recipes. Or if you’re pressed for time, you could always just upend a bag from your local orchard into a bucket of water and invite your guests to go bobbing.
Pumpkins, gourds, and squash
It’s not a party without decorations, and no Halloween celebration is complete without a jack o’ lantern. Thankfully, Connecticut is well-stocked on pumpkins. In fact, the fat orange specimens favored for carving are known as Connecticut field pumpkins, and they have been cultivated here since pre-colonial times.
Pumpkins aren’t just a good way to demonstrate your creative skill. Save the seeds you scoop out and toast them with some cinnamon and sugar for a delicious, easy to make party snack. Connecticut field pumpkins can also supply you with the base ingredient for pumpkin pies, soups, and more.
Pumpkins are nearly as prolific as apples in Connecticut, with 267 farms offering them in 2017. Many of these venues also sell gourds, which appear almost otherworldly with multiple colors, curving shapes, and a slew of bumps. Simple and inexpensive, gourds offer an easy way to add festive flair to the spread of food and beverages at your party.
While soft-shelled gourds are destined for the compost bin after your party, hard-shelled ones can easily be repurposed. Once they’re cured and dried, they can be remade into drinking vessels, spoons, birdhouses, and any number of other useful items.
Appetizers with in-season produce
Several vegetables are still in season in Connecticut, and you can pick them up for a healthy party snack. As an added benefit, the late season harvest crops also lend themselves well to ghoulish arrangements on the appetizer tray. Here are a few ideas:
- Broccoli Frankenstein: Get artistic with your vegetables and create the face of Frankenstein’s monster. Florets of fresh CT Grown broccoli make a perfect base for this project. To take a look at a similar project featuring Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc., click here.
- Cauliflower Brain: Ever see the head of a cauliflower and think it looks a bit like a brain? Complete the illusion by roasting the vegetable and adding a topping like buffalo sauce or a creamy pink dressing. Check out this recipe, which takes the additional step of putting the final result into the head of a jack o’ lantern.
- Radish Eyeballs: Who knew radishes could be so creepy? Simply peel the radish and pop in an olive and you’ll have the perfect garnish for your appetizer plate or Halloween cocktail. Get more ideas for this spooky snack here.
Every fall, Connecticut residents eagerly await the availability of apple cider. Many Connecticut orchards produce this beverage, and some cider presses have been in operation for a century or longer.
Cider is created when ground-up apple mash is crushed beneath a press’s wooden boards, with the resulting juice strained through press cloths. Unlike apple juice, cider is unfiltered and has a darker color since apple particles are suspended in the drink.
Sweet cider will start to ferment over time, so drink it up fast — or set some of it aside for apple cider donuts.
Of course, fermented apple cider is exactly what some people will be after for their Halloween party. Several farms offering sweet cider will also have hard cider available. Look for both traditional options and those flavored with other locally grown ingredients like honey, hops, pumpkin, and berries.
Last year, we explained why we were naming chocolate milk the official drink of Halloween. This beverage provides 13 essential ingredients, namly calcium, vitamin D, and potassium; delivers a healthy dose of protein; and helps keep you hydrated.
Chocolate milk is a treat for all ages, but it’s a particularly good choice if your Halloween party will have younger guests. Look for a CT Grown choice to help support the 90 dairy farms in operation in Connecticut.
Wine and beer
Autumn is harvest time for the 45 licensed farm wineries in Connecticut. While the grapes collected this year won’t make their way into your stemware for awhile, you can pick up a few bottles made from previous harvests at a Connecticut Wine Country location. Learn more about where to find Connecticut wine here.
Fall also means seasonal beers at Connecticut’s independent breweries, many of which source their ingredients from local farms. While pumpkin flavored beers abound at this time of year, you’ll also see more brown and amber ales on tap, as well as heavier, more filling options like porters and stouts.
Drink responsibly, and enjoy a safe, spooky CT Grown Halloween!
When you think CT Grown, you might not picture a frosty glass of local beer. Yet the boom in craft breweries has led to increased demand for local ingredients, which in turn has helped strengthen associated agricultural enterprises in Connecticut who grow the products brewers need.
After a short-lived renaissance in the mid-90s, craft beer and microbreweries have surged in popularity in the early 21st century. Breweries have been rapidly opening across the state, and Connecticut now boasts more than 125 independent breweries. Of course, a beer is only as good as the ingredients that go into it, and many Connecticut brewers have been turning to local sources for their barley, grains, malts, and hops.
As local brewers have increased in number, the demand for hops has also gone up. More than a dozen commercial hopyards have sprouted in Connecticut, and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has been supporting them with research and recommendations on integrated pest management and other best practices.
“Hop flavor is affected by soil and climate. Connecticut Grown hops have fruitier and more citrusy notes that allow us to develop more distinct flavors than mass-produced beers, especially when it comes to making New England IPAs that are less bitter than their West Coast counterparts,” says Alex DeFrancesco, owner of Stewards of the Land Brewery in Northford.
Some local farms and hopyards have taken the next step of opening a brewery of their own on the premises. Several farm breweries have been established since these venues were permitted under legislation passed in Connecticut in 2017.
Guests at a farm brewery have the added benefit of experiencing the joys of visiting a CT Grown agricultural producer. Instead of just tasting a flight or a pint, people can take home fresh produce, visit farm animals, or simply sit back and enjoy the pastoral surroundings while enjoying a brew made with CT Grown farm products.
“Our mission has always been to make our beers with locally grown ingredients,” says Barry Labendz, founder of Kent Falls Brewing Company in Kent. “We opened our brewery in 2015, around the same time Smokedown Farm Hops in Sharon and Thrall Family Malt (barley) in Windsor were getting started as well; before there was even a permit for farm breweries! Working with Thrall and Smokedown has taught us a tremendous amount about the physical ingredients we use to make our beer, a invaluable input with the growers about the flavors and aromas we are looking for in our ingredients, both of which play a huge part in producing delicious beers. And when a consumer purchases one of our beers, they are not only enjoying local flavors, but supporting a community of local farmers while doing so!
Several breweries and venues are celebrating the season by having Oktoberfest events. Find a full list here, and check in with your local brewer to find out how they have made CT Grown part of their work.