The Stratford State Legislative Delegation congratulates Soundkeeper, Inc. for receiving an America the Beautiful grant. The urban forestry award of $1600 will help support the Farm at Stratford's Community Orchard. Senator Kevin Kelly (R-21), Senator Andres Ayala (D-23),Representative Terry Backer (D-121), Representative Laura Hoydick (R-120) and Representative Lawrence Miller (R-122) applaud the local organization."This grant is welcomed support for a strong community program," said Sen. Kelly. "The Farm gives people an opportunity to learn about organic farming and grow their own food sources, right here in Stratford. This new funding for the Community Orchard at the Farm will further promote the production of organic fruits, and increase local resistance to food insecurity."
"This grant will help continue our work of keeping what was the Pirhalla property as a working community farm," said Rep. Terry Backer, who also serves as Executive Director and Soundkeeper of Soundkeeper, Inc. "What was once a fallow tract of land now produces locally harvested food for Stratford residents."
The Farm at Stratford is a Soundkeeper managed sustainability initiative on land that was deeded to Stratford on the condition that the town uses it for agricultural purposes. Currently, there are over 100 fruit trees on the property.
"Thanks go to Soundkeeper, Inc. for the great environmental work they are doing to preserve Long Island Sound, and especially to Rep. Terry Backer who has guided this and so many other important projects," said Rep. Miller. "This grant will allow for the expansion of locally grown food in Stratford while ensuring that we continue on the path toward cleaner maintenance of the watershed into Long Island Sound, and is an important initiative."
This America the Beautiful Grant will go towards increasing the inventory of disease resistant fruit trees on the Farm, and replace trees that have become diseased, damaged or destroyed. Funding will also be used to purchase supplies needed for the proper organic maintenance of the existing trees.
"The Farm at Stratford's Community Orchard offers a great opportunity for children and adults to learn about the work farmers do to grow the food we eat every day," said Sen. Ayala. "This grant will help ensure a healthy future at the Farm by allowing for an increase in the number of fruit trees that are resistant to disease. Healthier trees mean healthier food for residents of our community."
Soundkeeper is an organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the biological, physical and chemical integrity of Long Island Sound and its watershed. The Farm at Stratford is one of their many efforts to advance environmental initiatives. The Farm's goal is to produce a local healthy food supply, curtail pollution and enrich communities. The Farm also encourages learning and sharing between residents on organic growing methods and farming techniques.
"It is especially important to recognize the central role that Rep. Terry Backer, who has served as the state's Soundkeeper for 27 years, played in securing this grant" said Rep Hoydick. "We all share an appreciation for the unique vision he has put forth over a quarter of a century in minimizing the ecological impact on Long Island Sound to ensure its preservation for generations to come. This grant affords diversity of food production and opportunities to continue at the Pirhalla Farm property. As we celebrate Stratford's 375th anniversary it is comforting to know that Stratford residents continue to have the ability and the space to grow their own fruit and produce as our ancestors have done since 1639."
Connecticut's America the Beautiful Urban Forestry Grant Program is made possible by funding from the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Municipalities and non-profits apply to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Division of Forestry (DEEP Forestry) for the grants. The funds are distributed to advance urban forestry throughout the state.