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Young farmers in CT can apply for a grant to start their own farm

Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU

The New London County Farm Bureau in Connecticut is starting a new program to encourage young people to become farmers.

Matt Staebner, bureau president and farmer, said the state’s aging farm industry needs young workers.

“We’re going to be starting a new program in New London County, but we’ll also take youth from all over the state of Connecticut who are interested in agriculture and want to get a start,” Staebner said.

Farmers from around New London County at the grant meeting.
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Farmers from around New London County at the grant meeting.

The grants are available to people 19 years old and younger.

“This is kind of a stepping stone to help them develop if they want to get chickens, get a chicken coop built or get a couple of chickens, maybe get some fencing for a beef cow, or a sheep or a goat,” Staebner said. “So, it’s kind of getting youth interested in agriculture, because if you don’t have the youth coming along then you’re not going to have farming in Connecticut into the future.”

Staebner said the average age of farmers in the state is about 60 years old.

18-year-old Christopher Sarnik inherited his farm from his grandmother. He said people without that inheritance need other means to get into the industry.

“I know from my project that if I go for the grant I’m definitely going to be able to expand my sheep flock and everything with that,” Sarnick said.

The grants have been funded by the state Department of Agriculture.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.