BY ANDREAS YILMA
NAUGATUCK — The borough’s only vegetable farm, Sunset Farm, has been officially certified organic, as it expands its roots to grow more food.
Baystate Organic Certifiers, a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program accredited certifying agency that provides organic certification to farm and processing operations in the nation, certified the farm on Andrew Mountain Road an organic crop producer April 14.
Kaitlyn Kimball and her husband, Lawrence Passeck, began the conversion of the former horse farm into an organic vegetable farm in 2019 and have been growing crops ever since.
Kimball said their farm is the only certified organic farm in the Naugatuck Valley and one of three certified organic farms in New Haven County. The other two farms are Massaro Community Farm in Woodbridge and Two Guys From Woodbridge farm in Hamden.
“It’s so important because it’s an extremely rigorous process and as you can see there’s only a number of farms in the state that are certified organic,” Kimball said. “It’s a huge deal.”
Kimball said the process took her about a couple months to work through a hundred page application. The farm will now be able to use the USDA organic seal on their products.
The farm will have an annual inspection where inspectors come to the farm for eight hours and go through all of the records and check all of the progress to verify everything, she added.
The Board of Mayor and Burgesses in November voted to enter into an agreement with the farm for the borough to lease out an estimated 3.5 acres it owns on Andrew Mountain Road, which adjoins the Wilmont property and Gunntown Passive Park.
The organic farm has received some assistance through a few grants as well.
The farm received a $1,000 grant from American Farmland Trust to help cover the lease for the newly leased property, $800 from Solid Ground, a program for New Farms and Farmers out of University of Connecticut to help with some supplies and a $30,000 grant from the National Resources Conservation Service for irrigation.
The NRCS is the USDA’s primary private land conservation agency, Kimball said.
Passeck and Kimball grow many various vegetables including tomatoes, scallions, turnips and garlic and a lot of greens such as spinach.
The farm also has organic flowers such as
They grew vegetables during the winter in their greenhouses as well but are now focusing on the outdoor spring season.
Kimball said there’s a lot of significance with the farm getting the certified organic label.
“It shows that we’re contributing toward sustainability in our community. We’re bringing back agriculture,” Kimball said.
“Agriculture is kind of dying, especially with this new generation.”
Kimball said they really enjoy providing this service to their community and are hopeful this will draw more people and business to the borough overall.
“I think this will really help us break into new markets because there are so few certified organic farms at all of the farmers markets except for one that we attend, we’re the only certified organic farm,” Kimball said. “So it just helps us market our products better and draw more customers that are looking for that healthy, sustainable option.”
The organic farm is growing more vegetables and flowers on the newly leased land from the borough to accommodate the five farmers markets it will participate in this year, including Trumbull Farmers Market, the Monroe Farmers Market, Cityseed Edgewood Park Farmers Market in New Haven, the Stamford Farmers Market and the Naugatuck Farmers Market.
“We’re very grateful for our customers’ support and that we hope that everyone continues to enjoy our products,” Kimball said.