A person driving north on Brushy Plain Road might be forgiven for thinking that it’s just a long stretch of suburbia, with condominiums, houses, apartment buildings, a school and a small shopping plaza lining both sides of the road. Even Veterans Park seems more in keeping with a suburban landscape than with the farms that covered the hills before the building boom of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s transformed Branford into what we see today.
But, tucked behind an overgrown old fence on the west side of the road between Veterans Park and the condos, there remains a small piece of Branford’s agricultural past, the Zielinski Farm. Once one of several pig farms in town, it now grows hay that is mowed and used by the Page family at their dairy farm in North Branford. Nearly the entire property is prime or important farmland soils, with two to three acres that have high potential for vegetable farming.
In 2014, Branford Land Trust learned that June Zielinski Emielita had left this 13.5-acre farm to the Land Trust to be kept as open space when she passed away. She also left life use of the residence on the property to a friend who had been renting the building and helping maintain the property.
BLT volunteers have already been at work on the property, clearing brush from the edge of the field and along the fence line. We also hope to eliminate the phragmites that cover a large wet meadow area around the old watering pond.
For now, BLT will continue to have the Pages mow the field. In the future, if the Pages no longer want to harvest the hay and the life tenant is no longer living there, this could be an ideal starter farm, or it could simply be kept mowed, a beautiful reminder of what Branford once looked like.