Celebrating Earth Day
Welcome to the latest issue of CTExplored/Inbox from Connecticut Explored. Every other week, we share that latest stories, the newest Grating the Nutmeg podcast, programs and exhibitions from our partners to see/watch this month, and more!
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We’re celebrating Earth Day this month with stories from our SPRING 2021 issue.
Saving Historic Family Farms
Dawn Adiletta is passionate about saving farmland. Though we first worked with her when she was curator at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, we’ve more recently turned to her for stories about farming. She wrote about the history of hops growing in Connecticut in our Summer 2017 issue.
In the Spring 2021 issue, she writes about the Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT) and the historic farms it’s helping families hold onto. “According to a University of Connecticut analysis,” she writes, “Connecticut agriculture generates $4 billion in revenue for the state, with small family farms at its heart.” One example is Wike Brothers Farm in Sharon, shown above, started around 1864/1865, when John E. Wike, with his father, brothers and sisters, purchased about 145 acres of the current 350-acre farm.
CFT is only 19 years old. Its first project, Adiletta writes, was in South Glastonbury, and it illustrates why CFT was needed. “Elsie Scaglia wanted to sell her 16-acre berry farm and orchard yet keep it in agriculture, but her parcel was too small for existing state preservation programs. CFT’s easement allowed the valuable farmland to be sold to its current owners Michael and Joanna Kamis. The Kamis family, who renamed the site Walnut Ledge Farm, have farmed there for seven years, posting on their website their goal to ‘develop a healthy environment to grow delicious food’ and raise their two young daughters.” Read the full story with a Premium Inbox subscription or check out these options:
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Connecticut’s Agricultural Experiment Station
New Haven Preservation Trust’s Elizabeth Holt tells us about the founding of Connecticut’s Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES)—one of the oldest of such organizations in the nation—in her Spring 2021 story. Founded in 1875, CAES does its work from a National Historic Landmark-designated campus in New Haven, and satellite operations in Hamden, Griswold, and Windsor.
CAES was born of a marriage of agriculture and chemistry. Some of its first work was around testing commercially manufactured fertilizers. Holt writes, “This research was made freely available to the public so that, for the first time, [farmers] could make their own judgments and comparisons of fertilizers on the open market.”
Some of its most groundbreaking early work was in corn yields—pretty remarkable considering Connecticut’s not part of the corn belt!
“The station’s scientists soon branched into other areas of research such as analysis of animal feed, food, drugs, and toxic substances,” Holt continues. “In 1895 the state legislature passed a food-quality law after the station’s analysis of pepper, coffee, maple syrup, and 10 other foods showed that 30 percent of the samples tested were adulterated.”
CAES may well be the quasi-state agency we know the least about—despite it having had significant impact on our daily lives. Read the full story with a Premium Inbox subscription or check out these options:
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The Latest from Grating the Nutmeg
Episode 115: America’s First Public Rose Garden - Elizabeth Park
30 minutes. Release date: April 3, 2021
Elizabeth Park, on the Hartford-West Hartford border, is home to the country’s oldest public rose garden, established in 1904—where generations of prom goers and wedding parties have had their photos taken.
Find out how Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture, a contested will, and a beloved wife are all part of the story.
CT Explored’s Mary Donohue interviews Elizabeth Park’s rosarian Stephen Scanniello.
Grating the Nutmeg Extra: Link to a transcript and photos here!
"Connecticut's Historic Rose Gardens," Winter 2017-2018
"Frederick Law Olmsted in Connecticut,” Spring 2018
”Off the Streets and Into the Parks,” Spring 2003, creating safe spaces for city children to play.
Programs and Exhibitions to Enjoy This Month
Two Anniversary Exhibitions thru May 23
In 2001 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company donated its art collection of 190 works to the Florence Griswold Museum. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this transformative gift, the museum presents Expanding Horizons:Celebrating 20 Years of the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection. And, Centennial of the Lyme Art Association Gallery, pays tribute to the landmark anniversary of their neighbor and sister institution. Both exhibitions are on view through May 23.
Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme. 860-434-5542; florencegriswoldmuseum.org
Sewing Workshop Online
A virtual workshop, Sewing and Learning: Isabella Beecher Hooker and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, is now available online in the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center’s new multimedia gallery at HarrietBeecherStoweCenter.org/media-gallery. You can learn how to create your own Phrygian-style hat and learn its history—all at no cost! The Stowe Center has also reopened for tours. Reserve tickets in advance.
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, 77 Forest Street, Hartford. HarrietBeecherStoweCenter.org; 860-522-9258
New Connecticut-Based Memoir
Nothing Special is a disarmingly candid tale of two sisters growing up in the 1970s in rural Connecticut. Older sister Chris, who has Down syndrome, is a charming extrovert, while the author, her younger, typically-developing sister, shoulders the burdens of their parents. Bilyak details their lives in heartrending and hilarious vignettes. Visit hfsbooks.com/books/nothing-special-bilyak/.
Environmental Protection of Historic Resources
Did you know that historic preservation is an environmental activity? Many of the laws and regulations that protect our natural environment have provisions to protect the historic environment, too. Preserving historic buildings is a good example of sustainability—it’s recycling on a big scale. As proponents of historic preservation know, the greenest building is one that is already built!
Paul Manship Exhibition
One of America’s most celebrated sculptors of the early 20th century, Paul Manship is known for major public commissions such as Prometheus at Rockefeller Center in New York City and the Rainey Memorial Gates at the Bronx Zoo. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art presents Paul Manship: Ancient Made Modern on view through July 3.
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main Street, Hartford. Thewadsworth.org; 860-278-2670
Add to your Calendar: May 12, 6 p.m.
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
“Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue, New Haven and Beyond”
Lecture based on her story for the upcoming Summer 2021 issue and her award-winning book, Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age. Presented by New Haven Museum and New Haven Preservation Trust with media support by Connecticut Explored. Register HERE or NewHavenMuseum.org.
Stories we love from back issues to read now.
“Hebrew Tillers of the Soil,” Spring 2006. The remarkable story of how Jews fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe found a new life in eastern Connecticut.
“Borden Revolutionizes the Milk Business,” Fall 2007
“I Was A Pennsy Girl,” Summer 2011. Many Connecticans share the experience of working tobacco. Read Connie Robinson’s story.
Kids’ Page Extra!
Connecticut Explored stories for elementary school students.
“Black Bears in Connecticut,” by Cornel Mataresse
A special Kids’ Page Extra from a Simsbury fourth grader.