In the Farmingville section of Ridgefield, down a quiet road lined with old stone walls, a rustic little farm store stands beside a cluster of white buildings and a red silo. It’s a simple scene, but because this is Connecticut, you know it has a story, probably one that begins a long time ago.
The farm is called The Hickories, and it’s been here for over 250 years. It sits on Lounsbury road, named for the prominent early Ridgefield family that built it. Two Lounsbury brothers became Connecticut governors; the second of these, George E. Lounsbury (in office from 1898 to 1901), grew up on this farm and lived here all his life.
The very layout of the property hints at the rhythm of Ridgefield’s early days; the narrow, grassy path traversing the property was originally the route traveled by local farmers bringing their produce to Route 7 and from there on to market.
Even the recent history of The Hickories goes back many decades. The farm has been owned by the same family, the Brewsters, since 1936.
At the farm store, I meet up with Liz Rueven of Kosher Like Me, who knows everything about Fairfield County food, and who I first got to know years ago when I interviewed her for a newspaper article about Connecticut’s Jewish foodie scene. From there, Farm Manager Laura Mulligan, who lives on this property and seems to know it like the back of her hand, leads us through the fields. We pick and eat blueberries, just ripening from palest green to blue, and tart currents, little bursting spheres of red. Fat peapods are growing here too, and fuzzy peaches that dangle from leafy branches.
As we approach the pond, shining placidly under the hot morning sun, Laura warns us to watch out for the tiniest toads, the size of a toenail, that blend perfectly into the dirt beneath our feet.
The farm is brimming with life, from the bees buzzing in the flowers to the chickens busily pecking about. I spot two fluffy sheep, who want nothing to do with me, and dainty quail who lay the prettiest speckled eggs. (I will try some later, their shells cracked open to reveal a delicate blue pigment, their yolks adorably tiny. They have a mild taste, just like chicken eggs really, but somehow more special because I know exactly where they came from.)
The Hickories grows over 160 varieties of fruits, vegetables, and flowers, all certified organic. In addition to the year-round farm stand – where they sell their produce and meat, prepared foods like salsa, and other products of the farm like seedlings and sheepskins – the farm has a CSA program which includes a pick-your-own option. They also conduct tours and host events, from weddings and other private parties to workshops and dinners open to the public.
Despite the venerable past of The Hickories, the farm feels very contemporary, even trendy, in its approach. It’s not just that it’s organic, and that the CSA is structured to let city dwellers have a try at working on – and a taste of living off – the land. It’s also the focus on sustainability, the way the animals are cared for, and the Instagrammable nature of it all. But of course, this “trendiness” is also a return to the way things used to be, a slower time when we knew exactly what we ate, because it was grown by farmers who carried it to market down a narrow grassy lane.
136 Lounsbury Road, Ridgefield, CT
Farm stand hours vary seasonally, check their website for details.