Connecticut Farm Numbers Increase, Bucking National Trend

Feb 23, 2014

Connecticut saw its number of farms jump over five years from 4,916 to 5,977, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

The number of farms in Connecticut is growing. That's according to a new census report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In 2012, nearly 6,000 farms were operating in Connecticut -- that's up from about 4,900 just five years ago.

Linda Piotrowicz, with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, said there are a lot of different types of farms in the state. "It's much different than states out in the Midwest," she said, "where you have very large farms, on huge tracts of land, growing one crop. We might have a large farm, by Connecticut standards, that might be 400 acres, but that land is spread out all over in many different fields, sometimes in multiple towns. We just don't have those wide open tracts of land that they have in other states."

One thing the census makes clear: Connecticut's farmers are overwhelmingly white. Only seven of the state's nearly 6,000 farmers reported "Black/African American" as their race. 

An aerial view of Buttonwood Farm in Grisworld, Conn. According to a USDA report, there are about 436,000 acres of farmland in the state.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Also not surprising, Connecticut farmers are older. The average age of a farmer in the state is about 59. Still, Piotrowicz said there are more young people getting interested in farming. Numbers bear that out.

From 2007 to 2012, farmers under the age of 34 jumped by 65 percent. "For a long time," Piotrowicz said, "many people have been worried, because the average age of the farmer in this country is so high. People were worried that young people didn't want to go into farming as a profession. What we're seeing is that ... young people are interested, and they do want to get into farming. That's a really exciting thing. It's also great to see more women as principal operators of farms. That's pretty exciting too."

About a quarter of the state's farmers are women. That's about 1,500 farmers.

Nationwide, the number of U.S. farms dropped to 2.1 million in 2012, which is about a four percent decrease from five years ago.