The State Bond Commission has approved $5 million in funding for the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s new Farmland Restoration Program, a voluntary program that provides matching grants of up to $20,000 for restoration activities that “increase the state’s farmland resource base for agriculture, with an emphasis on prime and important farmland soils and on human and livestock food production.”

Priority will go to projects targeting production of fruits and vegetables. The agency will consider livestock, livestock feed, and support production second, with tertiary consideration given to other uses based on land use and acreage to be restored for agricultural production.

Grants can be used for clearing and removal of trees, stumps, stones, and brush to create or restore agricultural use; installation of resource protection barriers to protect crop fields on restoration areas; restoration of shellfish beds or aquaculture ponds; and removal of invasive plants and hedgerow management for reclamation of overgrown fields, pastures, and meadows.

A program overview is available at or call (860) 713-2511.

In related news, the members of the Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development are: Erica Andrews, Hurricane Farm, Scotland, appointed by Governor Malloy; representing agricultural production; Allyn Brown III, Maple Lane Farms LLC and Connecticut Currant, LLC, Preston, appointed by Governor Malloy; representing agricultural production; Winter Caplanson, Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market, Coventry, appointed by Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams, Jr. representing agricultural marketing; James Guida, Guida’s Milk, Kensington, appointed by Speaker of the House Christopher Donovan representing agricultural processing; George Hindinger, Hindinger Farm, Hamden, appointed by Governor Malloy, representing agricultural production; Jason Hoagland, Connecticut Agricultural Education Foundation, Windsor, appointed by Senate Minority Leader John McKinney; representing agricultural education; Herb Holden Jr., Double H Acres, Broad Brook, appointed by Governor Malloy; representing agricultural production; Jamie Jones, Jones Family Farms, Shelton, appointed by Governor Malloy, representing agricultural production; Michael Keilty, Maple Spring Farms, Morris, appointed by Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney; representing an agricultural trade association; Shelly Oechsler, Botticello Farms, Manchester, appointed by Governor Malloy; representing agricultural production; Kevin Sullivan Jr., Chestnut Hill Nursery, Stafford, appointed by House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, representing the “green” industry.

Vice chairs are Henry Talmage, Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, and Gregory Weidemann, University of Connecticut, Storrs.

Chairman is Steven Reviczky, Connecticut’s Agriculture Commissioner.

The council is to make recommendations to the Department of Agriculture on ways to increase the percentage of consumer dollars spent on Connecticut Grown produce and farm products, including, but not limited to, ways to increase the amount of money spent by residents of the state on locally-grown farm products, by 2020, to not less than 5 percent of all money spent by such residents on food. Also, on the development, diversification, and promotion of agricultural products, programs, and enterprises in this state and shall provide for an interchange of ideas from the various commodity groups and organizations represented.