Trustee’s Stewardship Award: Arethusa Farm
In 2018, the Connecticut Trust presented the Trustees’ Award for Stewardship to George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis for their reclamation and reactivation of Arethusa Farm in Litchfield as a successful dairying business.
Over the past 19 years, George and Tony have preserved 300 acres of agricultural land with numerous historic houses and barns, and they have rehabilitated three historic buildings in the nearby village of Bantam.
They have stimulated strong visitor traffic to their locations and created 250 jobs on the farm and in the production, wholesale, and retail chain. Milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products from the farm are available at major outlets and their own retail shops. This kind of economic development is compatible with the area’s strong agricultural identity.
Click here to see our other 2018 Award winners. Read more about Arethusa Farm below.
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At Arethusa Farm, stewardship takes place on many levels—of natural resources, of economic resources, of community and human resources—but they all begin with and continue to be rooted in stewardship of historic and cultural resources. Arethusa’s resurrection began as a farmland preservation effort in 1999 when George and Tony, the president and vice president of Manolo Blahnik shoes in North and South America, bought a former dairy farm operated by the Webster family from 1868 until 1982. The moribund but well-remembered and beloved local landmark was threatened with subdivision and development.
George and Tony initially intended only to plant a vegetable garden for themselves and rent the fields to local farmers, but they quickly became interested in breeding dairy cattle and soon found themselves operating a full-fledged dairy farm with Holstein, Brown Swiss, and Jersey cows that have received prizes around the globe. Originally, the milk was sold to a local dairy cooperative. But in 2009 they began bottling and selling it themselves. Now Arethusa Farm not only preserves Connecticut farmland as it used to look; it also produces, as its motto proclaims, “milk like it used to taste.”