Spring is a magical time on the farm… the earth is waking, animal babies arrive, our work in the greenhouses foreshadows planting in the fields, we begin to grow and make again, and the barn swallows return. This year, you come too!
Connecticut Food & Farm has selected our Ten Favorite Springtime Farm Visits. At each location, you can explore, touch, and learn. Most are perfect for children, and some even welcome dogs. There are things to eat and treasures to buy… and Connecticut farmers waiting to share this newly-minted season with you!
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1) Sap rising is the first miracle of spring… see maple syrup being made at Fabyan Sugar Shack now through late March, weekends 11-4 pm. The boiler is wood fired and the smell of the sweet steam and wood smoke is enchanting. See syrup making from tapping through packaging. Watch the evaporator and learn the science behind making syrup. This is one of Connecticut’s largest maple producers… sugaring time is a high holiday here… feel the energy of it!
Taste and purchase all grades of maple syrup, maple peanut brittle, maple candy, maple cream, maple coated nuts, maple jelly, maple ice cream topping, pure maple sugar, and hand-blended maple seasonings.
Mother Nature rules this process…calling ahead to see if sap is running is advisable.
Fabyan Sugar Shack
84 Fabyan Rd.
North Grosvenordale, CT
(860) 935-92812) Meet the baby goats at Oak Leaf Dairy, open weekends 12-4! Tour Oak Leaf… or “goat heaven” as we think of it… this is one of the prettiest farms around. Goats are friendly from the minute they are born, they love meeting people! Picnic on a hillside with scenic views, while goats graze in the distance on expansive pastures. Talk goat husbandry with the Reynolds family, the fifth generation to run the farm, see a hand-milking demonstration, or watch the farm’s full scale milking beginning around 5.
Taste farm-made goat cheese (cheve, feta, and cheddar) and caramel. These are for sale as is their goat’s milk soap.
Bring a picnic lunch if you’d like. Leashed, friendly dogs are welcome. As the weather gets nicer, you may luck into finding hayrides running to the goat pasture, or a goat cheese pizza party in progress!
Oak Leaf Dairy
68 Bogg Lane,
3) Taste the cheese at Cato Corner Farm. On this picturesque farm, you’ll see chickens and ducks, meet calves in the barn, and cows when they head out to pasture in early May. Friendly staff members are very knowledgeable and willing to chat about about cheesemaking and animal care. Open year-round, Friday and Saturday 10-4, Sunday 11-4.
Cato Corner makes a wide variety of cheese styles… the counter every week has “Something old, something new, something stinky, something blue” with many styles to choose from, and often seasonal specialties. You can sample and buy all of their award-winning ripe cheeses, usually 10-12 varieties.
In the farm store, you can also pick up their grass-and-whey-fed-beef and humanely raised veal (this is the only veal we’ll buy!), Cato Corner Farm T shirts, and farmstead soap.
Priam Vineyard is one mile away. Wine tastings are available there beginning March 14, every Friday-Saturday 11-6, Sunday & select holidays, 11-5 in their tasting room and outdoor patio — lots of visitors buy cheese at Cato then head over to Priam for a tasting or a bottle of wine.
Cato Corner Farm
178 Cato Corner Road
Colchester, CT 06415
4) Be where the buffalo roam… at Creamery Brook Bison ~ The animal that most Americans call a buffalo is actually a bison… and millions of them once thundered across the wilds of the USA. On a quiet, dead-end country road in Brooklyn, the huge animals still rule!
Mark your calendars for two spring events: St. Patrick’s Day festivities, March 15 beginning at 2, include narrated wagon rides and a kid’s craft activity and Cinco de Mayo, celebrated on May 4 beginning at noon… again featuring wagon rides through the farm, you can build your own delicious bison taco, and there will be games for children.
The retail store, open every Saturday from 10-2, is stocked with bison meat and bison-related gifts and information. Any time you visit, you can see a variety of farm animals.
Leashed, friendly dogs are welcome.
Creamery Brook Bison
19 Purvis Road
Brooklyn, CT 06234
5) Celebrate the arrival of spring at Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm’s Spring Ice Cream Social, Saturday, March 22, 11-6, and Annual Sheep Shearing, Saturday, April 26, 1-3. In the barnyard, meet chickens, turkeys, geese, donkeys, sheep, and if the weather is fine the goat kids, too!
Winter hours at the farm store are Fridays & Saturdays, 11-6. Beginning March 22nd, they are open 7 days a week, 11-7. Here, you can buy their pasture raised turkey, chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and goat from the freezer. The farm store offers their own ice cream and cider doughnuts, carries local products like honey, jams, cheese, syrup, and milk… and they serve a Thanksgiving Sandwich made with roasted turkey breast, stuffing, cranberry sauce, or turkey salad, or turkey and cheese.
Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm
227 Ekonk Hill Rd,
Moosup, CT 06354
Pine Hill Alpaca Farm is nearby… if you call ahead, they offer farm tours and allow children to go into the barns and feed the alpacas. (860) 564-7204
6) Watch milking time at the UCONN Animal Barns. See dairy and beef cows, sheep, and horses. Young animals can be found in the barns: baby foals in the spring, lambs during the very early spring, dairy calves year-round, and beef calves beginning in mid March. The barns are open every day from 10-4 and visitors can view the UConn dairy cows being milked from 1- 4 at the Kellogg Dairy Center.
Tours are self-guided; we especially love the Children’s Animal Trail brochure!
Many visitors wind down their visit by stopping off at the UConn Dairy Bar for an ice cream sundae or cone.
UCONN Animal Barns
Storrs, CT 06269
8) Fall in love with the Highland Art Farm lambs at the 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm. Visit the animal barn at this 120-acre farm, play on the hill, picnic in the pavilion, see the blueberry and raspberry beds, and tour the newly established herb beds and the organic Master Gardener/Foodshare garden.
Take a walk… more than 50 different species of birds as well as other wildlife can be seen throughout the seasons, making it a delightful experience for birdwatchers and nature lovers.
In the shop, buy skeins of alpaca yarn for knitting.
Open to the public 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm
158 Auer Farm Road
Bloomfield, CT 06002
9) Get hands on at Flamig Farm with an immersive, interactive, and memorable farm visit! The Farm Animal Petting Zoo is open to visitors from 9-5 once the weather turns… usually by early to mid April. Meet a huge variety of livestock: Chickens, rabbits, donkeys, pigs, ponies, peacocks, guinea fowl, sheep, ducks, geese, llamas, alpacas, draft horses, goats, emus… and Rosie the Potbellied Pig. Touch a tractor and climb aboard for a picture. There are pony rides on weekends from 11-3.
See the elements of sustainable farming: Bee-hives, enviro-compost, manure, mulch… and alternative energy in action! An 11.4 Kilowatt Solar Photovoltaic system on their
Chicken coop roof provides about 75% of the farm’s electricity. A 30-tube evacuated tube Solar Thermal system makes “domestic hot water” for one of their barns. See and learn how they make Biodiesel from used vegetable oil to run their diesel farm vehicles.
Displayed here are “Tower Garden” and “Airoponic growing systems” developed at The Epcot Center, which are a simple way for anyone to grow their own vegetables.
In the farm store, you can buy their eggs and pork, snacks, local honey, hats, soap, ice cream, and their famous “Backward EGGS T Shirts.”
Admission charge is waived for kids under 2 or over 80.
This year’s Earth Day Celebration, scheduled for April 26th, will include hayrides and pony rides.
Tulmeadow Farm, just around the corner, has award winning Ice Cream.
Flamig Farm Inc.
7 Shingle Mill Road
West Simsbury, CT 06092-2311
10) See where The Farmers’ Cow milk comes from! April 12, 12-3, visit Graywall Farms, a 700 acre working dairy farm and member of The Farmers’ Cow. Graywall is also home to the “pods” of The Mystic Cheese Company, where cheese is made in a unique, on-farm, cheesemaking facility crafted within two recycled shipping containers.
Explore the farm on foot or take a wagon ride tour, see baby animals (goats, sheep and a calf), visit the barns to see the cows and the milking parlor and watch the cows being milked.
Sample The Farmer’s Cow products: Summer beverages, coffee, ice cream and the cheeses of The Mystic Cheese Company.
Children can plant a seed in a Farmers Cow container to take home.
Available for purchase will be: Farmer’s Cow logo T-shirts and Hats, The Farmer’s Cow coffee beans, ground coffee, half gallons of The Farmer’s Cow lemonade, strawberry lemonade and teas; and Mystic’s Melville and Melinda Mae cheeses.
While in the area, visit The Farmer’s Cow Calfe and Creamery, 86 Storrs Road, Mansfield. For great food and flavors of The Farmer’s Cow ice cream that you cannot find in stores.
49 Chappell Road
11) Get garden inspiration at Topmost Herb Farm, renowned for a huge selection of heirloom tomato, medicinal and culinary herb, and perennial and annual flower plants, all grown in the greenhouse without chemicals, pesticides or commercial fertilizers. The plants owe their robust health and vigor to organic potting mix, seaweed and kelp mixtures, herbal plant teas for insect and disease control, and additions of farm-generated compost.
A visit to Topmost is an escape in itself… sit under the gigantic ash tree to enjoy the view and the peacefulness, lie in the hammock under the arbor, or do a bit of birdwatching after walking around the gardens. Kids can swing on the swing hanging from the tree by the house.
If you are in the mood to talk gardening, Topmost owner Carole Miller is too.
Precluding April blizzards, the greenhouse will open Thursday, April 17, and thereafter will be open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9-6.
You may bring your leashed, friendly dog. The resident collie loves all dogs except aggressive ones, but please watch out for him as you drive up the driveway…he considers it his job to escort cars, and he’s getting old.
Topmost Herb Farm
244 North School Road
Coventry, CT, 06238
As a bonus) Toast our Connecticut wines on the Wintertime Connecticut Wine Trail. The CT Coast & Country Wine Trail is a collaboration of Bishop’s Orchards Winery in Guilford, Gouveia Vineyards and Paradise Hills Winery in Wallingford. The Winter Wine Trail’s Passport Program rewards you for tasting great wines and having fun. Visit all 3 by March 30, have your passport card stamped, and be included in a random drawing for 12 prizes totaling over $1,500.
The full CT Wine Trail, with 25 wineries and vineyards in Connecticut, opens in May.
AND, the summer season of farmers’ markets begins to get underway in May when the Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market takes the show on the road with a series of POP UP markets around the state:
May 11 ~ Mother’s Day Farmers’ Market at Topmost Herb Farm in Coventry: Spring vegetables, garden seedlings, heirloom tomato plants, flowers, free massages for moms, mimosas, card making for kids… at one of Connecticut’s prettiest farms. Echo Uganda will perform.
May 18 ~ Foodie and Chef Market at Garden on the Bridge, part of Willimantic’s townwide Local Food Festival with art, street performers, chef demonstrations, local brews, and farm-to-table restaurant specials. Desert Rain & Friends will perform.
May 25 ~ On the Wine Trail: POP UP Market at Holmberg Orchards and Winery in Gales Ferry. Tractor rides through the orchard with long views of Poquetanuck Cove, wine tasting and sales room opens for the season. Ramblin’ Dan Stevens will perform.