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Images of Canton: Bristol’s Farm Gets into Swing of the Season

May 17, 2016 Business, Community, Photos No Comments

By John Fitts

CANTON — Now in his fourth season back at his family farm, Josh Bristol feels he is truly home.

“I’m planning on sinking my roots here,” he said. “It’s the right place for me to be.”

The Bristol family has been farming – or leasing – the land along Route 44 in Canton since the late 1800s.

Josh Bristol, a 2004 graduate of Canton High School, worked in the theater industry for several years but kept thinking of getting back to the farm, where he spent many, many hours while growing up. Initially the timing wasn’t right but the exit of one of the tenant farmers and the fact that those remaining didn’t want to run the store put the plan in motion. The 2013 death of his grandfather and long-time farmer, David A. Bristol Sr., along with the fact that his contract at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven was coming to an end, cemented the decision. Josh Bristol decided to try it for a year.

“After that I kind of kept going,” Bristol said, adding that he bought a home in town. “It’s the right place for me to be.”

“I get a lot of satisfaction out of just watching something grow and kind of nuturing it through,” Bristol added. “It’s always a good thought at the end of the day that people are taking all this food I grow home and feeding their families with it. I always say there’s just something primal about farming. There’s just something deep down in my primitive brain that’s just like this a good thing to be doing; this is something you should be doing.”

This year, Bristol and his crew are farming approximately 7 acres, running the farm store, offering a Community Supported Agriculture Program and participating in the Avon Free Public Library’s market in July and August.

At the core are Bristol, his father Dan, grandmother Rose McKinnon, and friends Courtney Parker, of Canton, and Charles Frazine of Winsted.

Many of those who work on the farm are quite invested in it.

Parker has known Josh for 27 years and loves working outside.

Frazine is in his 4th summer at the farm, has an associate degree in environment and natural sciences from Northwestern Connecticut Community College and plans to study agriculture and natural resources at the University of Connecticut.

There are certainly others involved, especially during the summer months, and some of the wrestlers Josh Bristol coaches at Canton High School will be helping this summer.

In the past several weeks, crews have been busy readying fields, operating the farm store on weekends installing an upgraded irrigation system and transplanting young plants into the field.

The Farm is still offering slots in its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and Market Share Program. With the traditional CSA plan, customers sign up for a weekly selection of vegetables, which are picked based on what is available at the time.

“People really like coming and getting a box of produce,” Bristol said.

Cost is $500 for a full share and $300 for a half-share. For families, Bristol recommends a full share but for smaller households, he said a half is generally enough.

“It’s more than a couple can eat,” he said of the full share.

Market shares are available in increments of $90, each of which includes $100 in credit at the Bristol Farm store. That way, customers can choose exactly what they’d like to purchase, including items not grown at Bristol’s, such as eggs, baked goods, honey and milk from area farmers and food producers.

CSA slots are open through the end of the month.

The family is working with the state department of Agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the town of Canton on a plan that could potentially give permanent protection to 28 acres of the 112-acre farm. Under the plan, “development rights” would be purchased, preventing the land from being sold to developers and thereby protecting it. The owners keep the right to work the land.

Dan Bristol said the process is in the early stages and many details would have to be worked out. He, however, said his goal is to preserve the farm.

“That’s the goal,” he said. “We really want to keep it the way it is.”

Bristol’s Farm Market

541 Albany Turnpike (Route 44) Canton

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

(7 Days a week, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.- June through October).

For more information, log on to http://www.bristolsfarmmarket.com/

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