Farming for farmers by farmers

By Kimball Cartwright, Director of Development

Mark Palladino – Irrigation Systems for Small Farms Training (at Common Ground in 2017)

“After air and water, our relationship with food is the most important relationship on this planet.” – Bill Duesing, Old Solar Farm

Connecticut farmers, like you, are busy. From cultivating good soil to extending the harvest season, to maintaining farm tools and equipment, it is amazing they find the time to set up financial records, learn the advantages and disadvantages of different marketing channels, or develop water management systems. Where do farmers themselves find a place to connect? Find time to learn from and teach each other?

Common Ground is one such place (a place made possible in turn by its supporters)! Last summer, Jiff Martin, of UConn Extension, tackled the idea of developing a series of trainings around the State with multiple partners, that would offer opportunities to learn from the best. She was successful. Whether new or experienced, someone who owns their own land or a farmer working on someone else’s property – the series offers something for everyone. For many farmers, the series offers quite a few things for everybody.

If you are a farmer, you may want to skip the rest of the blog post and get to the listing of the remaining trainings – the current cycle only goes through March. They take place in different parts of the State, and you can find both the schedule and links to course descriptions here:

At the end of January, Common Ground hosted an advanced training on planning and growing cover crops. Eero Ruuttila, the R&D Station Operations Manager in Albion, ME, talked about the importance of soil preservation and regeneration. Eero started the workshop with a quote:

In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter, war spreading, families dying, the world in danger, I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.” – Wendell Berry

Few other quotes illustrate the importance of good soil, and the tremendous value of clover as a cover crop. Wendell Berry’s quote resonated for many – there are a lot of young farmers interested in getting into farming because, as Bill Duesing put it: “it’s one of the few things that is an unquestioned good.” There were other quotable moments too!

If we’re going to live on this planet, and if we’re going to be healthy, we need healthy food. One of the most complex things we do is grow food, especially with the variability of climate, soil, and plants.” – Bill Duesing.

“I enjoyed hearing how Eero planned out sequences for certain crops before and after certain plantings.” – Diane Litwin, Farm Manager, Common Ground.

The last scheduled workshop at Common Ground this spring is Tuesday, February 20th, on Growing in High, Low and Movable Tunnels, led by Steve Munno, farmer at Massaro Farm in Woodbridge. Thanks again to UConn’s coordination skills, the expertise of local farmers, the generosity of our supporters, and some help from the USDA!

What are the classes you’d like to see offered at Common Ground’s farm? (You can comment below or email me at



  1. Cryx Feb 24, 2018 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Kimball Cartwright, thank you ever so for you post.Much thanks again.

  2. Peter Mar 5, 2018 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    Yes, I”m just reading “Grass-Fed Nation: Getting Back the Food We Deserve by Graham Harvey from the Sustainable Food Trust. He says that over 100 years ago farmers in Britain learned that rotating crops then animals on the same land magically improved the soil. It”s the so-called “Green Revolution in the mid-20th Century that started pushing artificial fertilisers, pesticides, etc. onto farmers that messed everything up. That”s when we unlearned it as a soceity.

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