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The old dairy farm is the perfect place for a nostalgic walk.

We know that farms produce everything from corn and wheat crops to livestock, fruits and vegetables. But they also provide reassurance as we pass through the open spaces and fenced fields fringed by towering trees, a pastoral connection to our not-too-distant past.

Since 1985, Connecticut has lost more than 90,000 acres of farmland. Anyone who grew up in Connecticut or lived here for several years can remember a farmland that has now been converted into a housing estate or shopping plaza. There is always a sense of regret for what once was and will never be again.

The late Willis and Lillian Platt knew it. In 2001, the Southbury Land Trust purchased Platt Farm, a 110-acre former dairy farm on the banks of the Pomperaug River. A sign at an informational kiosk acknowledges the Platts: “Thanks to the generosity of Willis and Lillian Platt, this land they loved and cultivated is forever preserved for the enjoyment of present and future generations.” (The Platt family still has a dairy farm across town that has been in operation since 1773 and is now run by its ninth generation.)

Now that’s my kind of forever when it comes to farmland. And it is one of the most picturesque farms I have seen during my travels through Connecticut. Tucked away along Flood Bridge Road, a dirt road that takes you back in time, the rolling farmlands of Platt Farm Preserve are a love-at-first-sight experience. A winter-sleeping cornfield lies to the south and rolling grasses reach the northern horizon. And then you see the white clapboard farmhouse and red barn and silo and the picture of a perfect Connecticut farmhouse is complete.

There are several ways to explore the reserve after parking. A trail marked with blue flames climbs a fairly steep rock ridge before emerging near the top of the pasture with stunning views of evergreen and deciduous forest. The area is the southern end of a 7-mile long traprock ridge. The trail runs around the perimeter of the reserve and past the farm to the lower fields.
The land trust website says that the reserve’s “variety of habitats are ideal for hiking, nature study, fishing, bird watching and picnicking…the northern part of the farm is somewhat rugged and is a habitat excellent for nesting birds such as woodcocks, indigo buntings, warblers and field sparrows.”

The southern portion of the farm leads hikers around the edge of a cornfield and past a massive trap rock to the banks of the Pomperaug, a 13-mile channel created by the confluence of the Weekeepeemee and Nonnewaug rivers. The preserve has 2,000 feet of frontage along the Pomperaug River.
Marc J. Taylor, MD, Memorial Greenway spans the entire length of Pomperaug, as well as Weekeepeemee and Nonnewaug, in Southbury and Woodbury. According to the trust, Dr Taylor, who died in 2012, was “a physician who once made house calls to every corner of Southbury, enjoyed nature and appreciated the beauty of rivers. As his medical career wound down, Taylor became a national champion of rivers and environmental stewardship.”
The path along the river is beautiful, with low hemlock branches creating a tunnel effect as you walk along the banks of the energetic waterway. The waters are clear and show the pebbled bottom of the Pomperaug. The trail passes through the parking area and hikers can return to their cars on the dirt road.

The trust was founded in 1978 and protects more than 1,000 acres of open space in this New Haven County city. But for me, the jewel of Southbury is a former dairy farm turned reserve that now produces tranquility and salvages something of our pastoral past.

Platt Agricultural Reserve

Southbury
The bottom line: Located on the designated scenic Flood Bridge Road, the 110-acre Southbury Land Trust Reserve offers scenic views, seemingly endless meadows, a climb up a traprock ridge and a walk along the banks of the Pomperaug River under a canopy of huge fir trees.

Long: A 2½-mile loop trail marked with blue flames shows off much of the preserve. The half-mile orange trail runs through the pastures with the mile-long red trail running through lower field and the Pomperaug River. There are several miles of additional trails within neighboring city-owned Platt Park.
Difficulty: The ascent to the top of the traprock ridge is the only moderately difficult hike in the reserve. The trail’s remaining climbs are gentle along the edges of meadows, through cornfields, and along the banks of the Pomperaug River.
Addresses: Interstate 84 to exit 14/South Britain. Follow Route 172/South Britain Road north. Turn right on Main Street South and go approximately one mile and turn left on Flood Bridge Road. The reserve parking area is approximately one mile on the right. Parking is also available in setbacks from the road. Go to southburylandtrust.org/trail-maps for a trail map.
Pet friendly? Dogs are allowed on a leash and must be cleaned up afterwards.
Things to do nearby
Leo’s Restaurant: Serving customers since 1987, Leo’s offers home-cooked meals and is known for “unique homemade breads and crazy concoctions” like the Eiffel Tower (apple cinnamon raisin French toast), Vanna White (Belgian waffle topped with fresh fruit and a scoop of vanilla ice cream) and breakfast pizza. Bennett Square, 7 Poverty Road, Southbury, 203-264-9190, leosrestaurantes.net
Aquila’s Nest Vineyards: The owners say this Newtown winery was “inspired by mythological tales and our love of astronomy.” All the wines are marked with the image of a constellation and the name of a woman drawn from an ancient Mediterranean myth, such as Queen of Illyria Red Blend and Princess of Troy Merlot. Guests can sit indoors, in an igloo, by the fire pit, in a “romance” pergola, or by a “forbidden” fireplace. 56 Pole Bridge Road, Newtown, 203-518-4352, aquilasnestvineyards.com
Shepaug Eagle Viewing Area: Connecticut’s largest hydroelectric facility, the Shepaug Hydroelectric Station, provides a unique habitat for wildlife and is an important winter feeding site for bald eagles. The movement of the water below the dam prevents ice from forming so there is always access to plenty of fish for the eagles to feed on. During viewing season, which runs through March 12, admission is free but reservations are required. The viewpoint is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 2225 River Road, Southbury, tinyurl.com/shepaugeagles