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Letter to the Editor: Campbell Farmland

Members of the Campbell family discuss their viewpoint on the Campbell Peaceful Valley Farm.

Dear Tax Paying Residents of Tolland:

You may have noticed a story in Tolland Patch, some green signs up around town, or, most recently, a notice on the “Reader’s Page” in the Journal Inquirer stating that the preservation of the farmland at Campbell’s Peaceful Valley Farm is in jeopardy.  As children of Clarence and Beatrice Campbell, we would like to share some facts with all of you who are residents of the Town of Tolland.  Please keep in mind our statements are based on knowing our parents intentions well since we were involved in the discussions at the time of their selling their land to Tolland and from working on the farm alongside our father for most of our lives.

Our parents wanted the 13+ acre section of farmland as well as the 70+/- acres of open space to be used for all to enjoy in perpetuity.  Each and every one of you has a right to use both parcels of land, be it the 13 acres which was purchased with your tax dollars for “municipal/recreational use” as the sale agreement states or the open space parcel.  Their desire was to share the beautiful scenery, views, and trails with everyone.

At the July 24th Town Council meeting, the Council members tabled a resolution to transfer the lifetime farming use from our mother to another person because they had your best interests in mind.  They could not, in good judgment, make a decision on a resolution which did not present all the documentation associated with it.  For example, after reviewing documents, the Council members learned that the initial purchase agreement between our parents and the Town of Tolland clearly stated the lifetime ‘lease to farm’ could not be “sold, sublet, or otherwise transferred”.  Our parents had lifetime use of the 13 acres with the barn because, at the time of the sale, our father still had cattle and was raising corn for feed. 

Our father stopped farming years prior to his passing in 2009. Since our mother, Beatrice Campbell, no longer wished to farm, she sold the farming equipment and asked her daughter Debra to remove the remaining animals to prepare the property for Town use.  

Conserving Tolland is proposing the Town allow one person to hold the ‘lease to farm’ for this land.  We question how this honors the intent of our parents who believed the land should be used to best serve all the residents of Tolland, not just a limited few.  Presently, there are ‘keep out/private property’ signs on this farmland which is not private.  It belongs to you, the people of Tolland.  You are not allowed to go on this property although it belongs to the Town.  Is this truly the best use of town land?  It is NOT how our parents envisioned it being used.

We would like to propose that the residents of Tolland put forth ideas to the Council where all town residents may benefit from the use of this land.  One Tolland resident has suggested  a Tolland Community Garden where people can grow their own food, teach their children about gardening, and share with other residents what a ‘community’ truly is. . . working together for a mutually agreed upon cause. 

This property was designated by our parents for the use and enjoyment of all Tolland residents.  Let’s keep it that way.

Sincerely,

Barbara Campbell Gracie, David Campbell, Debra Campbell

Children of Clarence and Beatrice Campbell

Walter August 09, 2012 at 08:54 PM
If the property was deemed to be left in a certain state, it should remain that way. I agree with the author, if your parents decided this is how they wanted their land to be used, it should be open to everyone, all 83 + acres.
Bob Rubino August 10, 2012 at 05:28 PM
All, I would recommend all of you attend the next two Town Council meetings and make your opinions known during the opening 'public comment' period. The venue for this meeting has been moved to the Fire Training Center owing to the HVAC revamp going on in the Town Office Building. The next two council meetings are scheduled for 7:30 on 8/14 and 9/11.
Sandy Sprague August 12, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I had the wonderful privilege to speak with Bea Campbell. As a longtime heritage breed farmer, it was wonderful to speak with such a passionate woman. I have no doubt that her passion was to preserve the heritage farmland. No Trespassing signs on the property. A farm is not the same as a hiking trail. You can't have people running their dogs (as was happening) on heritage farm property, just as you can't have individuals running their dogs loose on a trail. Many town properties open to the public have rules and regulations. I am sure Jeff Campbell (who is the "one person" continually mentioned and who is also the son of Bea Campbell) has and will consider ways for the public to enjoy this farm. Farm tours, perhaps sponsoring a farm animal, 4H involvement-the possibilities are endless. Driving by and having the ability to still view a heritage farm is a public enjoyment! I think you can draw an analogy. There are many many ball fields in Tolland. I don't have children, and I don't play on these league only designated fields, yet I support them through my tax dollars. I even drive a game now and then. I understand the benefit to the Tolland community. Just because every Tolland resident doesn't raise a heritage farm animal doesn't mean Peaceful Valley should not exist because all community members can drive by and see the farm. There is a huge benefit to the entire community. I believe this was the intent of Bea Campbell. Of course, that is just my humble opinion.
Long time resident August 16, 2012 at 07:24 PM
I have to believe there are some hidden motives here and opportunites being created for some others by the town council's hesitation here. I think the council should be very careful it doesn't get used in the process of what should be a very simple finalization of the the previous council's decision. Preserving farmland in Tolland has inherent benefits to the residents by its mere existence and presence. The notion that everyone in town should access the property to farm, etc was never the intent. Nor does it need to be for the residents to derive value from it. The previous council knew what was intended and didn't get it wrong.
MaryAnn August 21, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Why do we as a town have to DO anything with this property. Let it remain a PEACEFUL valley. If there is someone who will steward it as farmland, and it is maintained as it has been, then we the citizens ought to be able to just look at it and enjoy it! As far as community farming, a townwide needs assessment should be done before we jump into that. Tolland has a 1.25 minimum lot size. That is plenty of space for most residents to grow their own Victory Garden. What about apartment dwellers in town, you might ask? Maybe the P&ZC should look at asking apartment and condo developers to set aside community garden space in those developments as part of the permitting process. I still support the farmland preservation trust and maintaining this property as farmland in perpetuity.

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