Tulmeadow Farm News

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Governor Malloy, Congressman Murphy
Urge Congress to Act on Drought Relief for Farmers

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Congressman Chris Murphy today held a press conference at Tulmeadow Farm in Simsbury urging Congress to act on relief for farmers who have been impacted both directly and indirectly by the summer’s nationwide drought.

Connecticut Governor Malloy addresses the U.S. drought situation and its effect on farmers and citizens

Connecticut Governor Malloy addresses the U.S. drought situation and its effect on Connecticut farmers and citizens.

While Connecticut already provides the highest level of state support for its dairy farmers through its model safety net program funded through the Community Investment Act, the drought is impacting the state’s farmers because it’s causing a nationwide shortage of feed for livestock. Governor Malloy and Congressman Murphy said that passage of a federal Farm Bill will help cushion the impact of the drought and provide necessary relief for local farmers, who are seeing the price of feed dramatically rise.

“With the shortage of feed, farmers who depend on grains from the west to supplement the diet of their herds are being unnecessarily squeezed,” Governor Malloy said. “We applaud President Obama and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack for their efforts to provide emergency loans and other measures for drought-stricken farmers, but what we really need is for Congress to be responsible and pass the Senate Farm Bill to ensure that these services are available for farmers, both in Connecticut and nationwide.”

CT Governor Malloy speaking with Don Tuller

Connecticut Governor Malloy talks with Don Tuller about the drought situation affecting U.S agriculture.

“Families are already facing tough economic challenges,” continued Governor Malloy. “Rising prices at the supermarket because of inaction in Congress will only add insult to injury.”

“A good farm bill means good things for Connecticut, like funding for low-income hunger programs and conservation partnerships that help our farmers stay healthy and in business,” Congressman Murphy said. “But a Farm Bill is even more important for our state during this historic and crippling drought, and it’s simply inexcusable that Congress would fail to do whatever it can to insulate Northeastern farmers from its worst effects.”

Governor Malloy enjoys a Tulmeadow Ice Cream cone

Governor Malloy enjoys a Tulmeadow Ice Cream cone with Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky, while speaking with concerned citizens at Tulmeadow Farm.

“The national drought is placing enormous pressure on Connecticut)s dairy industry, drastically driving up the cost of supplemental feeds to unsustainable levels,” Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky said.

The Senate Farm Bill extends a disaster relief program aimed at livestock producers that expired at the end of 2011. While the U.S. Senate approved the disaster aid package, Republican leadership in the House did not call the bill for a vote prior to adjourning earlier this month. As a result of the inaction, aid is not likely to be approved until Congress returns in September.

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Tulmeadow Farm’s new kitchen continues tradition
of pumping out the flavor!

Long before a cone or cup of ice cream is put in a customer’s hands, it begins its journey in the new kitchen at Tulmeadow Farm. Five years in the making, the bright, spacious kitchen is a far cry from the dark, cramped room where the farm’s famous ice cream was previously made.

Located down a hallway off of the farm store, past several large freezers, the new kitchen is set up for two purposes. On one end is the section where ice cream is made, complete with shelves of supplies including chocolate chunks, Oreo cookies and base mixtures for a variety of flavors. Freezers are lined up on one wall and a large ice cream machine is set up along another wall.

Hand Packed Tulmeadow Farm Ice Cream

Cindy Bursiewicz and her cousin Carolyn Poitras hand packing Tulmeadow Ice Cream.

Wheeled carts are parked here and there to transport tubs and ingredients around the room. There are also large commercial sinks and plenty of space for the quart-filling machine, although that has not been set up yet. For now, pints and quarts are packed by hand.

At the other end of the room is a commercial kitchen for baking. Here Beverly Tuller concocts her baked goods, sold under the name of Bevalicious in the farm store.

“The goal is to achieve some production efficiency,” said Don Tuller, who operates the farm with his cousin, Buzz Tuller. “The whole thing is the convergence of systems that complement each other.”

Don Tuller has a B.S. degree in Animal Science and always had an interest in natural systems.

Prior to the new kitchen becoming operational, those making ice cream shared space with those serving the frozen treat, creating a crowded, inefficient area for all. Two air conditioners were needed to keep the old space cool and there was little room to store supplies that were spread out on shelves all over the building.

The new kitchen is 20-by-32 square feet, whereas the former manufacturing and serving area was 20-by-20.

Farm Baked Pies and Pastries

Part of the new baking center at Tulmeadow Farm.

The new space makes it easier to retrieve ice cream from the large storage freezers in the hall and bring it to the serving area. Before, workers had to go outside and walk around to another part of the building to get more tubs of the frozen dessert.

With everything in one place, it’s a snap to make 10 batches a day.

One warm day, Cindy Bursiewicz and her cousin Carolyn Poitras were in the kitchen whipping up batches of chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip and Oreo cookie ice cream. The farm was just coming off a hot holiday weekend and the supply needed to be replenished.

Both women agreed they were enjoying the new space.

Tuller will typically leave workers a list of the flavors that are in short supply. He described the process as being similar to ice cream made ,at home. A big difference is the scale of the operation.

“ Carolyn and Cindy keep an eye on it. You develop a practiced eye on the right consistency,” he said.

Poitras emptied a large bag of cream and milk into the machine, in addition to any other necessary flavorings. Minutes later she pulled up a stool to sit on while she held the coritainer, as the now-frozen mixture pooled into one of the containers
that Bursiewicz had just finished folding together.

Poitras mixed in, by hand, any of the “chunks,” including large chocolate bits, Oreo cookies or M&Ms, and Bursiewicz put lids on the containers and labels before placing them in the nearby freezers. The two had the system down and quickly finished one batch and moved on to the next flavor.

Poitras said that, typically, the number of batches they make are # fewer than on this day, but “ now that ice cream season is kicking into gear,” they will be busy.

She is fan of peppermint stick while Bursiewicz likes birthday cake. Both agreed that, while they enjoy ice cream, they can’t eat it everyday.

As Poitras leveled off the frozen concoction with a spatula, she explained that fruit flavors tend to be a fluffier consistency and more gallons can be made compared to non-fruit flavors.

It was on August 19, 1994 that Tulmeadow Farm served its first scoops of ice cream. Prior to that. it operated as a dairy farm, beginning in the 1950s.

The farm had an important decision to make. The cost of maintaining a milking herd had to balanced with the loss of profitability. The owners decided that in order to keep the farm that has been operating as such since 1768 alive, it would be best to transition out of the dairy business.

The operation then became more retail oriented. With the installation of greenhouses, plants and vegetables were grown and a roadside stand was set up to sell the products. That stand would develop into the current farm store.

Farm Fresh Fruits and Vegetables at Tulmeadow Farm Store in Simsbury, CT

One stocked cooler with freshly picked fruits and vegetables in the FarmStore.

Through the years, the store has added products and now carries a selection of Tulmeadow-grown plants, vegetables and food, as well as other items from producers in the area. There is honey from Farmington, maple syrup from Burlington, bread from the Collinsville Baking Company and more.

“ The idea was to have the whole meal right here,” Tuller said, adding that anything that is not grown directly on the farm is supplemented by other farms in the area.

Over time, the dairy cows that once roamed the fields became beef cattle and meat is also sold in the store. Today, the farm has about 60 head of grass-fed cattle.

Tuller said that in the 1990s, the farm began to think of how it could become more of a destination location and the idea of ice cream was considered. Connecticut-based Guida Dairy provides the sweetened milk and cream base used to make Tulmeadow ice cream.

“ It took us 20 years to build up the business,” Tuller said.

Today, Tulmeadow offers 50 flavors of ice cream. When the crowds show up depends on the weather. If it’s too hot, folks will not come out for ice cream. If it’s raining, they may not want to wait outside.

“Ice cream is kind of a fair weather product,” said Tuller.

Farm Made Ice Cream

New freezers are stocked for ice cream delivery and Tulmeadows Ice Cream windows.

Tulmeadow ice cream can also be purchased fit Kane’s Market and Fitzgerald’s Foods and other stores in the area, including Whole Foods Market in Glastonbury.

This year, the farm opened for the season in March, earlier than it has in the past, due to the warmer than normal weather in the early spring. Typically, the farm store opens in mid-April.

“We are certainly ahead of last year in terms of sales,” Tuller said, adding that it’s a long season and there’s no telling what the summer will bring.

The early warm weather had an impact in other areas of the business, too, including sweet corn. He predicts that the com will be ready much sooner than in previous years.

As a way to extend the retail season, Tulmeadow sells mums in the fall and Christmas trees and wreaths in December.

Tulmeadow field tomatoes

A field of tomatoes ready to ripen for late summer.

The farm has undergone the long process of selling its development rights to the Simsbury Land Trust, thus ensuring that the property will remain a farm in perpetuity. It was an eight-year process. More recently, the Tulmeadow Woodlot was acquired and is now available to the public for hiking.

“I just decided early on I was more committed to the farm than a certain type of agriculture,” Tuller said.

“As we looked at the reality of the dairy side of the business, if I was committed today, I would have been, more in favor of selling. Had we expanded the dairy, we would have been out of business. The ice cream has done what we hoped it would do, make us more of a destination.”

He added “the other part of it, we’ve been lucky. The setting is nice, [and] we’ve had plenty of publicity.”

Tuller’s daughter works on the farm, as do some of his nieces and nephews. Whether or not other family members will one day take over the operation remains to be seen.

“The goal with doing the land trust was to keep a farm here”, Tuller said.

The article above appeared in the July 2012 Simsbury Life Newspaper and is by Alicia B. Smith

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Simsbury Land Trust Celebration Planned

On Saturday, Sept. 24, the Simsbury Land Trust will host its 2011 Townwide Celebration. The event will be held at Tulmeadow Farm Field at 255 Farms Village Road in West Simsbury.

Tulmeadow Mums and Pumpkins

Mums are coming into full blossom and pumpkins are ready for picking…

At 10:30 a.m., an Opening Ceremony will be held to celebrate the Simsbury Land Trust’s acquisition of the development rights to all 260 acres of Tulmeadow Farm, permanently protecting the land so it can maintain its natural, historic and scenic value. The ceremony also will signify completion of the organization’s 10-year "Campaign for Simsbury" fundraising effort. The annual celebration will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (In case of rain, all events will be held the next day on Sept. 25, with the ceremony starting at 11:30 a.m., followed by the membership celebration at noon.)

"This special ceremony and family friendly celebration will recognize our members’ tremendous support of the Simsbury Land Trust’s dedicated efforts to protect local and all over Simsbury," explains Amy Zeiner, Executive Director of the Simsbury Land Trust. "The event is free to all Simsbury residents and features a free barbecue lunch live entertainment and hands-on activities, with guided hikes through the woodlot, the pasture, and a grand tour of the entire farm at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m."

Hayrides will be provided from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. and there will be Pony Rides from 11 a.m. to 12 noon, courtesy of Flamig Farm. The Riverside Reptiles will host special reptile and amphibian presentations in the event’s large Kids’ Tent at noon and again at 12:30 p.m. Tulmeadow Ice Cream will be served to all attendees, while supplies last. Note: Dogs will not be permitted to enter this event.

Tuller Meadow ~ North pond

Preserving the natural beauty of Tulmeadow Farm and other land in town has long been the goal of the Simsbury Land Trust. In 2005, the non-profit organization acquired the development rights from the Tuller family to permanently protect 167 acres of their property, which included the fields north and south of the barns and the farm store. In 2008, the Land Trust secured funds to protect an additional 20 acres that included hayfields, pastures and the triangle of land surrounded by Westledge Road, West Mountain Road and Sugarloaf Cut. With the recent acquisition of the Woodlot, the final parcel, the Simsbury Land Trust now has acquired the development rights to all 260 acres of Tulmeadow Farm, protecting the land from future residential construction forever.

Admission to the Simsbury Land Trust Opening Ceremony and Membership Celebration is free and no reservations are necessary.

For more information, call (860) 651-8773, or visit www.simsburylandtrust.org. Individual memberships in the Simsbury Land Trust begin at donations of $40 and family memberships begin at donations of $60. All memberships include a copy of “The Walkbook”

Submitted by Laura Soll – Simsbury Land Trust

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Connecticut’s largest farmland preservation event

Simsbury Connecticut restaurants Metro Bis, The Mill at 2T, and Tulmeadow Farm and brewer Farmington River Brewing Company will be among the participants in Connecticut’s largest and oldest event to raise funds to save the state’s dwindling amount of farmland. The Celebration of Connecticut Farms will take place Sunday, Sept. 11 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at Jones Family Farms in Shelton. The event features some of the state’s best chefs preparing amazing dishes that highlight Connecticut grown ingredients. This year it will be co-hosted by Tony Award winning actress Christine Baranski, WNPR’s Two Time Peabody Award winner Faith Middleton, and celebrity TV chef and author Jacques Pepin.

“Since 2001, the Celebration has raised hundreds-of-thousands of dollars that have been used to help the Connecticut Farmland Trust continue its work to prevent farms from being lost to development.

We’re thrilled to have these three Simsbury restaurants and Farmington River Brewing participating this year,” said Dawn Adiletta, Interim Executive Director of the Connecticut Farmland Trust. “This is the must-attend event for anyone serious about wonderful cuisine and the freshness that only locally raised foods can provide.”

Don Tuller

Don Tuller of Tulmeadow Farm along with a number of restaurants and a brewery in Simsbury, is taking part in the upcoming Celebration of Connecticut Farms this September.

“I am excited to once again be participating in the Celebration of Connecticut Farms,” said Don Tuller, owner of Tulmeadow Farm. “For many, it may be a surprise to find out how many different types of wonderful foods Connecticut farms produce. Once again we’ll be serving our award winning ice cream, which is always a big hit. This is an excellent opportunity to expose foodies around our state to our restaurant and help preserve our rich agricultural heritage at the same time.”

Tulmeadow Farm will bring its signature flavor, red raspberry-chocolate chip, to the celebration, Tuller said. Tulmeadow farm produces greenhouse vegetables, field vegetables and grass-fed beef on 265 acres in West Simsbury.

“This farm has been in my family since 1768,” Tuller said. “The only way it could pass (as a working farm) to another generation was through an easement from the trust, since the development value is so high.”

Tickets for the 2011 Celebration of Connecticut Farms are $150 per person ($75 is a tax-deductible donation). In addition to the delicious food and drink, the celebration will include musical entertainment by Bone Dry, a silent auction, and farm tours. To purchase tickets and for a list of participating chefs, restaurants, wineries, breweries and distilleries, visit www.CelebrationOfCTFarms.org.

Tulmeadow Farm – Hand packed Ice Cream Pints

For newcomers to the celebration, it might come as a surprise to find out how much Connecticut farms produce. There are many amazing items, from fresh vegetables to fruits, meats, seafood, dairy and wines. These farm-fresh products are then given to some of the state’s best chefs, who transform them into dishes that would be at home at any four-star restaurant. One can easily spend the entire afternoon grazing from table to table, eating samples of foods ranging from organic pizzas to goat cheeses, pork to beef dishes. Then they can walk over to another table for a glass of award-winning chardonnay, cabernet franc, or local craft-brewed beer to wash it all down.

“Although we move the event each year to a different farm in the state, and attract new friends, we continue to see familiar faces make the drive to wherever it takes place,” said Adiletta. “This year we’re delighted to be hosted by the Jones Family Farms in Shelton. They were our first home in 2001, and owner Terry Jones is a passionate voice for farmland preservation. His farm contributes to our state’s agricultural heritage by producing strawberries, blueberries, pumpkins, Christmas trees and fantastic wines and will be the perfect setting for this year’s event.”

In addition to the delicious food and drink, the celebration will include musical entertainment by Bone Dry, a silent auction, and farm tours. To purchase tickets and for a list of participating chefs, restaurants, wineries, breweries and distilleries, visit www.CelebrationOfCTFarms.org.

The Connecticut Farmland Trust is a non-profit organization formed to preserve and protect Connecticut’s working lands through the acquisition of farm property and easements. The group works with farmers, landowners, land trusts, town officials and state agencies to protect agricultural land. Since its start, CFT has protected nearly 2,100 acres of farmland on 26 family farms, assisted partners in the preservation of over 800 additional acres, and has become the state’s leading private resource on farmland conservation.

For more than ISO years, the Jones family has been working the lands on their farm in Shelton, Connecticut. Today their 400-acre farm offers one of the finest harvest-your-own picking experiences in the area. Generation after generation of farm guests visit the farm each year, not only to savor the delicious strawberries or to find the perfect Christmas tree, but to enjoy time with their families while experiencing the rustic beauty of the farm. For more information visit www.JonesFamilyFarms.com.

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Grant Approved

Tulmeadow Sunflowers

During a special meeting June13, residents voted in favor of accepting a federal grant to buy 73 acres of land known as the Tulmeadow Farm Woodlot.

The Simsbury Land Trust was awarded the $1.4 million Forest Legacy Grant to buy the parcel on Farms Village Road. Residents’ approval was required because the funds and the acquisition of the land are each in excess of one percent of the town’s annual town budget. The town is the official recipient of the grant, because the money must be accepted by a public entity.

The land trust is completing the final phase of a 10-year campaign to raise $2.83 million to protect the 260-acre Tulmeadow Farm through the creation of conservation easements.

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Special Town Meeting on Tulmeadow Farm

The Valley Press – Thursday, May 19, 2011
The town of Simsbury has set a date for a Special Town Meeting on the purchase of a parcel of land at Tulmeadow Farm.

That meeting is scheduled for June 13 and will allow residents to weigh in on plans to preserve the 73-acre woodlot on the farm.
Tulmeadow Farm ~ Path into the Woods
The parcel is the third and final purchase to protect the 260-acre farm, but plans for the purchase have changed slightly. Originally, the Simsbury Land Trust was to buy and protect the land.

Now – though it will not have to spend any additional cash to do so; the town must make the purchase and then enter an agreement with the Land Trust for the management of the area.

The reason for the alteration is due to a $1.4 million Forest Legacy Grant from the U.S. Forest Service toward the purchase. The Land Trust, which applied and received approval for the funds, recently learned the town must be the recipient, said director of Administrative Services Tom Cooke. Therefore, the town will officially own the property and the Land Trust will care for it.

Last year, the town agreed to contribute $280,000 toward the S2.8 million total. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection also gave $500,000 to the cause, and the Land Trust will contribute $630,000.
Tuller Meadow ~ North pond
Tulmeadow Farm connects a 25-mile, approximately 6,000-acre national corridor that stretches from Simsbury all the way to the Massachusetts border.

The forested woodlot produces a marketable timber harvest every eight to 10 years and lies to the south and east of already preserved parcels of the farm. In addition, it is an integral link in a 4-mile walking trail used by hikers, dog walkers, joggers, horseback rider, cross-country skiers and nature viewers. There is a vernal pool on the western side of this parcel and another just beyond the southerly boundary.

“The Tulmeadow woodlot is just a treasure to preserve,” Land Trust President Chuck Howard has said.

To meet requirements set by the state for the DEP contribution to the purchase, once the town closes on the property it will enter into a conservation easement with the DEP and transfer one-half interest in the easement to the state.

The Land Trust will also get a separate right of way through the property.

At the Town Meeting, voters will be asked if the town should accept the easement and grant.

By Sloan Brewster

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