Planting paths of legacies at Ambler Farm

The weekend before her Oct. 18 wedding, Jennifer Galik D’Annibale brought her father Brian Galik, a former Wilton resident, to Ambler Farm to show him the new brick walkway at the entrance of the Carriage Barn.

“I showed him the new path and when he looked down, he saw his brick,” said Ms. D’Annibale, who purchased a brick with a personalized message for her father through the farm’s Plant a Path program.

“I purchased it for my father as a wedding gift and also in memory of my grandparents,” she said. “I wanted to do something related to the Amblers because they were really special to my grandparents and my father.”

Ms. D’Annibale said her husband’s sister, who volunteers at Ambler Farm, told her about the Plant a Path program, which Friends of Ambler Farm launched in June to help enhance beauty, safety and accessibility for those who visit the 200-acre farm.

People are invited to leave lasting legacies to the community by purchasing customized bricks to be added to the Carriage Barn’s new entrance walkway and the soon-to-be pathway between its parking area and the Raymond-Ambler Farmhouse.

“The brick was very emotional for me because I grew up right down the street from the Ambler’s at 226 Hurlbutt St.,” said Mr. Galik, who currently lives in New Jersey.

“The brick brings back all these memories — it’s a small memory of my childhood. I had a good childhood growing up in Wilton.”

Mr. Galik and his family moved to Wilton in 1955, the same year his father Frederick built their family home on Hurlbutt Street.

“I had a paper route for the Bridgeport Post and as I was soliciting customers, both Mrs. [Betty] Ambler and Mrs. Ambler’s helper, Katie Duncan — they both had subscriptions, so I saw Mrs. Ambler every day since I was nine years old up until I went to college,” said Mr. Galik, who graduated from Wilton High School in 1966. “Mrs. Ambler even came to my high school graduation.”

As friends and neighbors, Mr. Galik said, he and his father both helped Mrs. Ambler with repairs and other work on and around her property.

“My father was carpenter and a builder so he would do work for Mrs. Ambler and repair things in and outside her house,” said Mr. Galik.

“I literally worked at the farm, in the fields when they used to cut their hay manually. They used the old hayracks behind the tractor and they literally scooped up the hay with a fork and threw it in the big cart, and I would be in the cart stamping down the hay.”

Mr. Galik said he and Mrs. Ambler shared a special bond that he will never forget.

“When my grandmother died, my father told Mrs. Ambler and she said to me, ‘Can I now be your grandmother?’” said Mr. Galik. “Betty never had any children, so she never had the chance to be grandmother, but she was like a grandmother to me.”

Plant to Path bricks are available in two sizes and can be purchased and named for a $150 or $250 tax-deductible contribution, which will be used to support the farm’s ongoing educational and agricultural programs, as well as the restoration of the historic Raymond-Ambler Farmhouse.

Mr. Galik said he thinks the program is a great idea — “especially for people like myself — this is part of my youth.”

Ms. D’Annibale said she believes “anything that helps restore the Carriage House and makes it great for the community is amazing.”

“I think that Mrs. Ambler and Betty are probably very happy about how the town is really enjoying their property,” she said.

Friends of Ambler Farm has sold approximately 50 of the 200 bricks available in the walkway in front of the Carriage Barn.

For more information or to order a Plant a Path brick, visit www.amblerfarm.org.