Fourteen generations of Anita Ballek’s family have lived on and farmed their property at Town Street and Maple Avenue in East Haddam. The location was hand selected in 1661 by an Englishman Nicholas Ackley, given a Land Grant from King Charles II. Naturally, the 55.2 acres have seen various phases throughout the centuries. These days, the modern farm features a popular garden center that boasts tropical plants and ever-popular herbs. The family also raises hay for the small herd of cattle they keep at the homestead.
Now, thanks to an agricultural conservation easement signed by the family, it will continue to be farmland for the fifteenth generation — and many more to come. At a heartfelt get-together on June 29, members of the Ballek family signed the conservation easement, which donates the development rights of the farmland to the Connecticut Farmland Trust in perpetuity. The agreement limits future development of 55.2 acres of the farm to agricultural use.
Anita Ballek, the family’s matriarch, said that the agreement has been a long time coming, “This has been in the works for 37 years.” And she is happy to see it finalized. Ballek sees stewardship of her family’s land as a serious responsibility so she and her children have ensured that the land is respected forever. She shared, “It matters that everybody is onboard and quite willing to donate the land for agricultural perpetuity.”
“We as a family have decided to donate the development rights of the farmland to the Connecticut Farmland Trust,” the family said in a statement. “We have always believed in preserving farmland and open space in East Haddam. Now we are doing our part. It is our hope that our decision will encourage others in town to do what they can to preserve open space. East Haddam is a special place, and preserving its character benefits everyone in town.”
Each season the family works on bettering the farm as well as the community around them. Always forward thinking, they even added solar panels nine years ago to power the greenhouses. The land’s owners include Anita Ballek and her children George Ballek, Nancy Ballek MacKinnon and Richard Ballek.
To read more about the Ballek family and their goal to assure their land remains farmland, read recent articles in the East Haddam News and the The Hartford Courant.