Hickories farm in Ridgefield earns $50K CT grant for 'innovation': 'Thrilled about this opportunity'

RIDGEFIELD — The Hickories, a 250-year-old landmark in town, has received a farm grant of about $50,000 from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.

The Hickories, at 136 Lounsbury Road, was one of 30 recipients of the grant, which totaled about $550,000. The farm received the maximum grant award amount, which was $49,999.

"We're all thrilled about this opportunity," said Ridgefield resident Dina Brewster, who owns the business. "It is also really emblematic of a forward thinking move from the Department of Agriculture to support this kind of conservation work happening on Connecticut farms. The fact that they are backing us in this enterprise is confirmation to us that we're on the right track."

The grant money will enable the farm to create winterized places to store its farm products year round. The farm plans to build this equipment this year and expects to have it completed by next winter, Brewster said.

This is the second time the farm received the state grant. The first time was in 2011, when the funding enabled the farm to construct a winter-ready farm store.

Purpose of grant

The purpose of the $549,649 grant is to assist "Connecticut agricultural producers and cooperatives seeking to expand, diversify, and improve their existing operation. The FTG (Farm Transition) grant program strengthens the economic viability of Connecticut farmers through four dynamic categories to address gaps in funding to support them in times of growth and change," the Connecticut Department of Agriculture said in a release.

The state received a total of 58 applications, with a request of more than $1 million in grant funds, according to the release.

The Hickories' grant was in the category of "Innovation and Diversification Projects."

Matching funds were required for each category, ranging from 25 percent in the New Farmer Micro Grant up to 50 percent of the total project cost for Infrastructure Investment and Innovation and Diversification. Following a review process, 30 projects were selected for funding based on scoring criteria, the release said. 

Aside from "Innovation and Diversification Projects," other grant categories are "Infrastructure Projects," "Research and Development Projects," and "New Farmer Projects."

The Farm Transition Grant is a matching reimbursement grant program and funding is provided through C.G.S. Section 22-26k. Additional information about the program can be found at www.CTGrown.gov/Grants.