Cornwall has a rich farming heritage that lives on today.


Colonial Era

In the 1600s, the early settlers regarded Connecticut as forest and wilderness. By the early 1800s, most of the land had been converted to farmland. Crops included corn, wheat, oats, beans, and flax. Farms also produced fruit, dairy products and livestock. The open hill land was used for pasture and grazing. Apples were grown for cider, and barley was harvested to make beer. Early farmers tried to find rich soil in the floodplain areas, which was difficult in such a hilly region. Some farms were also located on hilltops where the lack of shade increased the growing season.

19th Century

Iron Exodus

Following the decline of the iron industry, many people left the area. There was a decline in the local population, but there was also an influx of new residents beginning after the Civil War and continuing during the first half of the twentieth century when people in nearby cities sought refuge from urban areas and recognized the beauty and peaceful landscape of places like Cornwall. Farming in Cornwall continued to flourish.

Cream Hill Agricultural School

The Cream Hill Agricultural School is believed to be the first school in the United States devoted to education in agricultural practices. Founded in 1845 on an 18th-century farmstead on Cream Hill Road in northern Cornwall, Connecticut, it operated until 1869. The property, still in agricultural use, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

20th Century

Connecticut’s Dairyland

In the early 1900s, some farms shifted away from crops toward dairy products. Increased transportation in the area allowed farmers producing milk, cheese and butter to deliver them further by train or other means. By 1984, there were only 10 active farms in the town. Local farmers’ markets help keep some of the farms in business, with many visitors and weekenders supporting the local farms and gaining the health benefits of fresh locally grown produce and dairy products.

Source: The Land and People of Cornwall, Connecticut: A Conservation Perspective of Our Town’s Natural Treasures. Published by the Cornwall Conservation Commission.

Historic Dairy Barns

More than 89 barns in Cornwall have been documented by Historic Barns of Connecticut, a project of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. Seven of Cornwall’s barns are listed on the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places.

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The Farms of Cornwall

Farming Today

Cornwall is a vibrant farming and gardening community! From fruits & vegetables, to grass fed beef, maple syrup, milk & dairy and much more!

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