A multi-generational and award-winning dairy farm in Woodstock will forever remain available for agricultural use under an agreement finalized Thursday that conveys the farm’s development rights to the state.
Elm Farm is the 311th protected under the state’s Farmland Preservation Program, totaling more than 40,000 acres.
The 117-acre farm, which consists almost entirely of prime and statewide important farmland soils, is part of a cluster of protected farms in Woodstock that exceeds 1,200 acres.
It is the sixteenth farm preserved in town through the state’s farmland preservation program, which has protected approximately 8,800 acres in Windham County. The farm, on Dugg Hill Road, is owned and managed by sixth generation dairy farmer Matthew Peckham and his wife, Christine, who keep a herd of about 150 milking cows.
Matt's great-great-great-grandfather Amos Peckham started the farm in 1885 after moving to Woodstock from Newport, Rhode Island.
“I am excited and pleased that the Peckham family decided to permanently protect their family’s farm through the state’s Farmland Preservation Program and that the state of Connecticut continues its commitment to ensuring the viability of agriculture,” Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said. “Woodstock is a special place with a vibrant agricultural community and townspeople supportive of production agriculture.”
In 2012, Elm Farm received the New England Green Pastures Award for Connecticut, given annually to recognize a family dairy farm for outstanding management practices in each of the six New England states.
Matt Peckham, widely known for his environmental stewardship and activism on behalf of dairy farmers, was named Connecticut’s Outstanding Young Farmer of the year for 2011.
The majority of the farm is considered Priority Conservation Area in the state’s plan of conservation and development, and is managed in accordance with a Conservation Plan and Forest Management Plan developed through the USDA-NRCS.
Sections of Peckham Brook and Muddy Brook run through the farm, which lies within the Little River watershed.
Elm Farm’s infrastructure includes a state-of-the-art, 1.4 million-gallon manure handling system, which keeps animal waste from entering the waterways and allows the Peckhams to use the manure and nutrients as fertilizer.