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Determining the Future of the Campbell Farm

The Campbell Peaceful Valley farmland located on Hunter Road is owned by the town of Tolland.

The future of a portion of Tolland's Campbell Peaceful Valley farm is up in the air as two separate but important agreements concerning the property will be finalized in the near future.

The town of Tolland has owned the property since 2003, according to Town Planner Linda Farmer. While 74 acres are currently maintained as passive open space, approximately 13 acres are categorized as active recreation land.

Back in 2010, the previous town council approved a resolution to pay $3,000 to The Connecticut Farmland Trust  to hold an agricultural easement on the 13 acres, which members of the Campbell family have been using for some farming activity such as growing corn, raising sheep and chickens, etc., Farmer said. The easement will maintain the land's agricultural use in perpetuity.

The town recently received a draft of the agreement from the trust, and town staff are in the process of reviewing it, according to Farmer.

Also undecided is the question of approving a "license to farm" agreement between the town and Jeffrey Campbell, who owns the homestead close to the town property and who may continue using the land agriculturally as his parents have done in the past. 

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The current "license to farm" agreement is in his mother's name, who passed away recently, Farmer said.

A resolution to put the agreement in Jeffrey Campbell's name was brought before the , but the motion was tabled so that the council could get more information on the issue.

According to the Conserving Tolland website, the property has been used as farmland since the 1700s. Residents also recently fundraised to preserve the property's historic barn and to print the diary of the late Bea Campbell, who was born there, according to the Conserving Tolland site.

Conserving Tolland founder and president Roseann Kellner Gottier said she supports both the agreement with the Connecticut Farmland Trust and the "license to farm" with the town.

"I feel like it's very beneficial to any town to have professional, single-focused land conservation organizations active in the town," she said. "It offers a multitude of experts, resources and objective, non-political opinions."

Farmer said that the town has considered using the land for recreation purposes, such as a baseball field, in the past, but that no concrete plans have been developed beyond its current agricultural use.

For more information on The Connecticut Farmland Trust, visit the organization's website. More information on the Peaceful Valley property is available on the Conserving Tolland website.

The town council is meeting next on August 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Fire Training Center.

Barbara P. Greenbaum August 03, 2012 at 01:00 PM
It is clear to me that Bea Campbell wanted this land to stay agricultural and we should honor that request. That she has descendents who wish to continue using this land as their ancestors did is a bonus for all of us. The fact that we have organizations like The Farmland Conservation Trust willing to work with us for this future benefit is a win/win. I'm not sure what the council intends to "study" in this case. It seems simple enough. Honor the wishes of a landowner who so generously gave land to the town and we all benefit.
Tina Binheimer August 03, 2012 at 01:10 PM
I would hate to see the town use this beautiful property as ball fields. We have more than enough ball fields in our town and very little places such a Peaceful Valley left. I truly enjoy driving by and stopping to see the animals and their gorgeous horse out in the field grazing as they should. I would also like to see a descendant of the Campbells able to use the land if they are interested. In my mind, that is what Conservation of land should be.
Michael Berstene August 03, 2012 at 02:42 PM
The Peaceful Valley Farm (Campbell farm) is a treasure, a great example of a New England farm that has been in existence since the 1700s. To see the children on the school bus all watching the farm animals in the morning and the local artists drawing, painting and photographing the picturesque farm is a part of our Tolland heritage and experience. Preserving this unique treasure is important not only for us, but for our children and grandchildren.
Karin D August 03, 2012 at 03:03 PM
As a resident of Tolland and a near neighbor to the Campbell farm I urge the town to consider preserving the history of this farm by keeping it an active farm. The work that has been done to restore the barn and the farm grounds has given the farm a rebirth. Residents that walk the trails can stop and view the farm and enjoy the aesthetics of farming life. It is imperative that we keep these small farms, as so many farms in CT are being taken over for building. The Town has so much to gain from open spaces and farm land, it adds to the appeal of country living which is why so many people move out our way. This is a landmark for the Town of Tolland. The Town Hall even displays a painting of the farm within its halls to show their love of the property. I believe that the Town should vote to keep this property under the maintenance of the Campbell family and keep it an active farm. The residences of Tolland have a voice and it says keep the Campbell Farm as it stands a farm filled with family, animals, and the love of the land.
Cherie Trice August 03, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Campbell Peaceful Valley and its working farm are indeed a treasure. We should honor the legacy of Bea Campbell and honor ourselves and our children by continuing to keep in place the beautiful gift she has given us. Let us dispense with more expensive and unnecessary "studies"-I agree, what is there to "study"? Why not use good Yankee practicality and common sense....and keep this land, with its animals, active family oversight and love, intact.
Joanne Reynolds August 03, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Living near the town my entire life, I'd be devastated to see yet another "recreational area" in the place of the pristine farmland that we all admire. I believe that as long as the Campbells want to continue utilizing the land for agriculture, the town has a duty to respect that.
Jon Parker August 03, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I couldn't agree more with the previous comments. Wasn't the point of the conservation in the first place to ensure the land would be preserved permanently? Why would the town want to put another baseball field or whatever, 10 minutes away from the schools and Crandall park? My stepfather's parents lost their farm when he was growing up and told me how insulting it was to his family, who tended it for almost a century. Now imagine how insulted a family that has been on the land for three hundred years would feel!
John Durand August 03, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Many of Tolland's residents, myself included, faught to assure that the pastoral nature of this town is preserved. We had a previous Council in tune with the concept. Further, in multiple planning surveys and town discussions this same "preserve the pastoral/rural character of Tolland" theme has been an overwhelming majority opinion of the town's residents. There aren't many spots left. This is one of the few and MOST representative of what we want to keep. I'm frankly tired of the constant pressure for more fields and active recreation space and expense. This property MUST BE PRESERVED IN PERPETUITY as passive, agricultural space. We must take every step to put all the layers of protection possible on this property so the question never again arises as to its' purpose. John Durand
Norm Arel August 03, 2012 at 07:13 PM
What Tolland doesn't need is another recreational area that must be maintained on the backs of the taxpayers. What many residents have worked for is a beautiful rural community. The previous Town Council saw the wisdom in granting a license to farm to Bea Campbell. This protected the property from becoming overgrown with invasive species such as tick loaded barberry, Russian Olive trees like the ones that took over the ballfields just off exit 67 and sumacs which seem to grow everywhere. By maintaining the property Bea with her son Jeff had assumed the burden of maintenance. Now that Bea has passed away Jeff would like to continue the effort and needs the license to farm in his name. Please give it to him. If you are not familiar with the property just take a ride up Hunter Rd. and look at the farm. You can picture in your mind a Peaceful Valley. Now picture a town recreation area with noise, traffic and maintenance costs. Not a Peaceful Valley any longer...and never again would it be.
Catherine Fiorillo August 03, 2012 at 07:26 PM
This property is a lovely piece of pastoral history. We love to look out at the farm and the animals peacefully grazing. The barn and the farm grounds preserve a bit of history going back to the 1700's. It is a working farm and is a treasure! Do not replace such beauty of historical significance with a baseball field!
Jayme Kunze August 03, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Hi, folks! Just to clarify, I don't think the town has any development plans for the property at this moment, from my understanding. A baseball field was considered in the past, but the property was deemed unsuitable, I believe. Sorry if it is unclear!
Roseann Kellner Gottier August 03, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I am not aware of anyone from the active recreation sports community advocating for the Campbell Peaceful Valley to be used for ball fields. There was a need for more ball fields with the great influx of young people and Cross Farms helped to fill the need. The purchase of the 13 acre Campbell Peaceful Valley was made with town municipal funds therefore the use is open for town development of various types.
Claire Hughes August 04, 2012 at 10:03 AM
It would truly be a shame to change the Peaceful Valley Farm. Sitting with Bea in her back yard garden was a gift I will forever treasure. Her topics of conversation would always be about farming, birds, flowers and nature. All the good people of Tolland deserve to share that same gift.
Melinda M. Bentley August 04, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Save Bea Campbell's Peaceful Valley Farm as the Town of Tolland legacy it is. It is a treasure that needs to be preserved! It would be a shame not to grant the farming license to Bea's son, Jeff.
Ray McKenna August 04, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Campbell's Peaceful Valley is a gem in Tolland. It is a beautiful spot and it is also active farmland at a time when local farming and farmers' markets are growing stronger by the season. Let's preserve what we have. Ray McKenna
Gael Stapleton August 05, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Live, value, and preserve the integrity of the Peacefull Valley Farm as is, or else lose a piece of nature that inherently bonds this community to what has made this New England town cherished by all. Gael Stapleton
Karen Kramer August 06, 2012 at 12:50 AM
I appeared before Town Council in hopes that this piece of property would be kept for perpetuity for agricultural uses. Thank you to Tolland Town Council for having the wisdom to preserve this piece of land for all future generations through the Passive Open Space fund in November 2010. Part of the character of Tolland is the purest of elegance of a small town/small farm nature that is truly unique to Connecticut. It is an honor to be part of a group, such as Conserving Tolland, that holds very near and dear the conservation and preservation of a large historical cultural part of Connecticut’s innate nature. Karen Kramer
Lori Wirth August 06, 2012 at 01:34 AM
The Peaceful Valley.. The view from the valley's rocky ancient overlook is magnificent. One can have a bird's eye view of the forest, the red barn, the pond,& the old stone walls. The creation of the valley is fasinating. Our ability to be able to have beautiful trails to explore and enjoy nature is priceless. Our ability to have heritage farmlands being cared for and active gives the valley life and a glimpse into it's past. The sheep and livestock give us this pastoral sight present in the 1700's and now in the year 2012. Enjoy every minute of your visit through the gem here in Tolland, Connecticut. I appreciate Bea & Clarence's family very much. Bea's family purchased the farmland almost 100 years ago.(1914). They very much wanted to leave a legacy for future generations to enjoy . Lori Wirth
MaryAnn August 06, 2012 at 03:49 AM
As a member of the previous Council that voted to preserve this "little gem" in Tolland as farmland in perpetuity, I hope that an agreement with the CT Farmland Trust and the Town of Tolland, through this current Town Council, can be reached. It is a small plot, smaller than the preservation organization usually takes on, so we should seize the opportunity to preserve it. And to have an individual with farming skills and intimate knowledge of the parcel as Jeff Campbell come forward to maintain the farm without costs to the town should not be shunned. The property does not need trails or bridges or any other improvements - it should be maintained as farmland, cultivated, hayed, left fallow, whatever farms do, so that we can look from afar and observed something that is disappearing in our world. As someone once playfully asked me, "Who needs farms when we have the A&P?" Well, we all do! To the Council, do what you know if best for ALL of Tolland.
Mary Voghel August 06, 2012 at 02:52 PM
I read a quote the other day by Samuel Johnson, and it said, "Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own." It is easy to be caught up in our society of instant gratification and short term decisions. The Peaceful Valley Farm can and should be an enduring treasure to the town of Tolland and all her future generations.
Crystal August 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM
This issue seems like is was and should be a done deal; why would there be any consideration otherwise? Intentions were made clear and obvious. With all due respect to all concerned, please execute this as initially intended.
Spencer LaTour August 10, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Can a town council undo what a previous council approved?
Deb Slivinsky August 14, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I grew up very near the Campbell property and rode past it on the school bus daily. I'll always remember watching the fields and woods change through the seasons and the quiet enduring beauty of that land. When I visit Tolland now, I walk up Hunter Road to look at the vista of hills and pond, the red barn and the house with its fieldstone path, and pause to listen to the sheep and the songbirds. Clarence and Bea were amazing stewards of this land. I ask the town council to support the Campbell's legacy of stewardship and obvious love for this small pastoral glen that is such an integral part of our history.
Long time resident August 14, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I'm trusting this current council's desire to review this is just based upon caution rather than any intent to undo the previous council's decision. This council has continually patted itself on the back with an attitude no previous council has ever made decisions or "worked together". I have taken those comments as inexperienced bravado, and I hope I have been correct in doing so. Renaging on the decision of the previous council is a big mistake.
Laura Mahon August 14, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Having grown up in a nearby town and recently (5 years) moved to Tolland, I was immediately struck by the unfortunate the divide created by Interstate 84. Some progress may be necessary but not without it's drawbacks. The dissolution of Campbell farm is not necessary. As far as I can tell it is the last active farm in town and probably one of the few places that remains as it was over a century ago. Why would anyone would opt to destroy that kind of history? Once it is gone, it is gone for all time.
sally balukas August 14, 2012 at 10:10 PM
From a farm in Tolland: What would be gained by overturning the last Town Council's decision and negating the two years' hard work of the Connecticut Farmland Trust? Tolland boasts of its rural charm. Let's help to keep some of it. Please move to protect the Peaceful Valley Farm in perpetuity , including a License to Farm for a Campbell descendant or anyone else who might be qualified to maintain it as a farm. Once destroyed it will be gone forever.
MaryAnn August 18, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Yes, by vote of the Council, it can make whatever policy decisions it feels appropriate, unless the decision has fiscal implications over a specified dollar amount, or when a legal document has been executed. Things can change if the sitting Council feels it is implementing the will of the townspeople. That is why it is so important to be involved and to speak publicly about issues.

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