LYME — On sunny summer days, Tiffany Farms in Lyme seems to have a dreamlike quiet. The barns sit silent, and the half dozen barn cats have disappeared and are probably sleeping some place. The cows in the green fields quietly munch grass.
If you visit the farm, and you don’t know much about farm work, you might be struck by the tranquility and the silence and the slowly, subtly changing landscape. You might lean on a fence to watch the cows — they are beef cattle, Black Angus mix, stunning black and white. Two cows might separate from the others and slowly amble to the fence to stare at you.
Jennifer Tiffany, the niece of John “Jack’ Tiffany II, the former state legislator who died last year after many years as the active owner of the farm, spent many hours on the farm as a youngster. Now she is coming up with plans that will help the farm to thrive — and, she hopes, give encouragement to other Connecticut farmers.
Jennifer’s cousin, John J. Tiffany III, is manager of the farm operations, including the herd of cows. He is one of quite a few Tiffanys involved in some aspect of the farm.
Says Jennifer, “We are working as a family to help out. It’s a large operation.”
She doesn’t seem daunted — only realistic. She’s not effusive about the beauty of the farm, although she concedes that “it’s picturesque.”
In an email she elaborates: “The work of a farm is just plain hard work. There have been many heartaches at this 100-year-old farm — the usual heartaches caused by bad weather that destroys fruit trees, the invasions of voles which chew on the bark of pear trees, destroying them. Life on a farm is always day-to-day work.”
She doesn’t mention other bigger heartaches: In September 2010, fire destroyed a 200-year-old hay barn. No animals were in the barn at the time, but a thousand bales of hay were lost. And in 2017, an 80-foot silo toppled over, collapsing onto a barn, which was destroyed. The silo had been three-quarters full of corn.
Each one close to a calamity. Each one a major financial loss. And how does a farm recover from such events?
“We are Tiffany strong,” says Jennifer.
Strong, and, it seems, imaginative and creative: Last summer, Jennifer and her husband, Bill Hurtle, thought it could be rewarding to sell cut flowers. They spruced up a sileage cart that had been used in feeding Holstein cows in the days when Tiffany Farms was a dairy farm, and filled it with buckets of cut flowers and some vegetables —sold on the honor system. They were “overwhelmed,” says Jennifer, at the response to this new venture, and decided to try it again.
The next chapter: Starting on June 15, and continuing every Saturday throughout the summer and into fall, a farmers market showcasing some dozen or more Connecticut farms — will appear on a plot of land on the farm facing Sterling City Road. It’s the plot where Jennifer’s grandfather raised prized draft ponies. And held small competitions for local farmers.
It should become a cheerful spot, a colorful corner ... where you will find zinnias, straw-flowers, snap dragons, gladiolus, celosia. And homemade jams and jellies. Vegetables. Bread and pastries. Pasture-raised beef and lamb and chicken, cheeses, yogurts. And more.
The market will be a collaborative effort, with several Tiffanys taking part. For example: “My sister Andrea,” says Jen, “has an incredible green thumb and a passion for farming and will be offering some vegetables at the market this year.”
The Tiffany children and grandchildren, Jennifer writes, have been “working diligently on bringing some beauty back to the farm. It has suffered so many tragic losses over the years, its beautiful setting masked by the sadness held within its stone walls.”
Soon the market, with flowers and pies and freshly baked bread and green beans, will be a place of color and good smells and taste. And, the Tiffanys and many others hope, it will be a place as well of hope and inspiration for Connecticut farmers.
Farmers market, Tiffany Farms, 156 Sterling City Road, Lyme
9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Saturdays, starting June 15 through summer