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Seeding the next generation of farmers in Connecticut

Elizabeth Guerra and Héctor Gerardo look out over their homestead farm in Danbury.
Tyler Russell/Connecticut Public
Connecticut Public
Elizabeth Guerra and Héctor Gerardo look out over their homestead farm in Danbury.

Across Connecticut's thousands of farms, spanning nearly 400,000 acres, the average age of farmers is 58, just under the national average. Over 90% of senior Connecticut farmers don’t have a younger person tapped to take the reins, according to an American Farmland Trust study.

This hour, we dig into local and federal efforts to support new and young farmers with New Connecticut Farmers Alliance President Liz Guerra. Plus, federal policy reporter Lisa Hagen has the latest on the 2023 farm bill.

RELATED:Liz Guerra and her husband Héctor Gerardo were recently interviewed for a series about Connecticut's BIPOC farmers, and efforts to diversify the field in the state, which is 98% white.

We also spoke with Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt, who stressed the need for stability and funding "safety nets" for local farmers, particularly during "a year like this year where you had a moderate winter, two pretty dramatic frost events, a drought" and, most recently, flooding.

Later, we'll learn more about 4-H, a nonprofit at the heart of harvest festivals where we live. Matthew Syrotiak, a 4-H alum, now works on a family farm. We hear from the "G.O.A.T. of goats," plus program leader Jen Cushman, about 4-H opportunities in Connecticut.


Cat Pastor contributed to this conversation which originally aired July 13, 2023.

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Katie is a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show 'Where We Live.' She has previously worked for CNN and News 8-WTNH.
Catherine is the Host of Connecticut Public’s morning talk show and podcast, Where We Live. Catherine and the WWL team focus on going beyond the headlines to bring in meaningful conversations that put Connecticut in context.