In 2010, the town of Sherman purchased Happy Acres Farm with a life estate for Anthony “Tony” Hapanowich. Tony’s family worked the land at 2 Taber Road in Sherman, CT, for most of the 20th century. In 2013, just a week after a very successful community Open House sponsored by the Conservation Commission, Tony passed away. His great pride and commitment to the farm shone through his face throughout the event.
At the time of his passing, the town had yet to develop a plan for the farm transition. Numerous committed residents of Sherman quickly gathered to workshop and research possibilities at the farm. During that time, the town utilized a subcontractor to maintain operations as they were.
As town decision-makers proceeded with a Request for Proposals for tenant farmers, several individuals realized how much work would still remain after tenants were selected. We also realized we had a common vision of a community farm focused on education, agriculture, and resilience. We want to see farm operations that preserve its natural rural beauty, teaches and uses sustainable and organic agriculture, produces healthy food for the community, and provides service through educational programs and events. Happy Acres Farm is a place where we, as rural region, can learn and grow together.
So, we created a non-profit 501(c)(3) group, Friends of Happy Acres, as a vehicle to foster these services.
Although most of our work focuses on the actual Happy Acres Farm, we hope to assist all agricultural efforts in the region.
We are a group of community members that deeply regard rural character, environmental sustainability, and community participation. Friends of Happy Acres Farm, FOHA strives to:
Offer education through practical lessons
Preserve agricultural traditions while encouraging innovation
Foster collaboration through partnerships, proactive thinking, and community engagement.
We hope to serve as a catalyzing force in the region to encourage those values. By creating enduring partnerships and building community capacity, we hope to translate those values for generations to come.
As of October 2019, our board is comprised of Justin Molito, Bill McCann, Kevin Clarke, Colette Shulman, Jen Freed, Ralph Gorman, John Rich, and Joanna Wozniak-Brown.
What We've Achieved So Far
While there have been tenants at the farm, FOHA has served in an auxiliary capacity.
So far we have:
- Hosted a Community Wide Picnic at the Farm
- Assisted with Chili Fest
- Hosted three fundraiser road races from the farm
- Supported two summer internships
- Co-osted a Farm Succession Planning Workshop with CT Dept. Of Ag., Working Lands Alliance, New Milford Farmland & Forest Preservation, USDA, Land for Good, and Northeast Extension Risk Management Education
- Commissioned a study “Management and Production Potentials” to study the future agricultural viability of the land
- Purchased and installed fence rails around the farm
- Attended countless board and town meetings supporting long-term interests of the farm
What we're doing next (with your help!)
As of today, October 17, 2019, the Board of Selectmen are still deciding what exactly the next phase of the farm will be.
The First Selectmen is advocating for a phased approach with Phase I comprised of a town-employed Farm Manager to oversee structural contractors, town access to the farm, and grazing of the fields by other farmers’ livestock.
Should this move forward, FOHA would like to host another road race, a farm to table dinner in the field, support a CSA, and a farm summer camp.