New exhibit celebrates Dairy Farming Month in Connecticut

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Dairy history The Institute for Community Research Gallery presents Dairy Farms in Connecticut: Change and Continuity, an exhibition with special events that explore the history, challenges, occupational culture, and current realities of dairy farming in Connecticut.

The exhibit is on view from May 8 to July 31, 2014, at 2 Hartford Square West, 146 Wyllys Street, Hartford CT 06106-5128. Hours are 10 – 5 Monday – Friday, during special events, and at other times by appointment by calling 860-278-2044 x 251. All events are free and open to the public.

ICR’s project features Farmers, Cows, and the Land: A Story of Modern Dairying traveling exhibit panels created by Historic New England, along with contemporary images and oral histories collected by photographer Markham Starr that document a year in the life of several Connecticut family farms in Connecticut.

Three events will invite public audiences to hear and discuss contemporary stories related to dairy farming in this state:

May 8, 5 – 7 PM: Opening Reception

Members of The Farmers Cow will display information about their dairy cooperative in Eastern Connecticut, offering samples of their products including ice cream. Exhibit photographer Markham Starr will speak about his experience documenting the dairy farms of North Stonington, some of which date back eight generations.

June 5, 6 – 8 PM: Roundtable Discussion on Connecticut Dairy Farming Today

An interactive conversation on issues, challenges, and new directions, with farmers and others in food and agriculture organizations who continue their work and heritage while developing entrepreneurial paths towards the future.

Featuring Robin Chesmer from The Farmers Cow, Martha Page from Hartford Food Systems, photographer Markham Starr, and a representative from CT Department of Agriculture.

June 26, 6 – 8 PM: Presentation - Reflections on Connecticut’s Agrarian History with historian William Hosley

Also a screening of the film Working the Land, a co-production of CT Humanities Council and SimonPure Productions.

Dairy farming in Connecticut has a long history, with some farms now in the eighth generation of continuous ownership. Many farms sustain a rich folklife and heritage in their built environment and work activities. Under threat from suburbanization, economic pressures, and changes in farming practices, family farms are rapidly disappearing. ICR’s project explores changes taking place in 21st century dairy farming, including loss of available land and closing of farms. While many challenging realities exist, there are also strong examples of survival and new directions leading to investment in farming and building that encourage some optimism for the future. 

ICR’s project is part of Connecticut at Work, a year-long conversation about the past, present and future of work life in Connecticut created by Connecticut Humanities in partnership with several heritage organizations across the state. ICR’s exhibit and special events have been supported by two grants from Connecticut Humanities. Other project funders include the National Endowment for the Arts, the CT Office of the Arts/Department of Economic and Community Development, and the Institute for Community Research.

For more information, contact Lynne.Williamson@icrweb.org or 860-278-2044 x 251. Visit our websites www.incommunityresearch and www.ctheritagearts.org



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