New Millstone owners continue farm’s legacy
Millstone Farm — known for its organic produce and heritage breeds of farm animals, and as the setting for farm-to-table dinners — will not change much under its new owners, Volckert and Eliane van Reesema.
“We plan on continuing Millstone as a farm,” Volckert told The Bulletin during an interview on Friday. “It will remain a private farm that opens to the public on an event-by-event basis.”
The only major change will be to add a stable for horses and an indoor riding arena. Their application to do so is before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The change is to accommodate the career of Eliane, who is a professional dressage rider and horse trainer.
The couple, who live in Rowayton with their three young children, will continue to make that their primary residence and stay at the farm mostly on weekends. They purchased the farm last fall from Betsy and Jesse Fink. It seemed to be a matter of fate, Volckert said, as the animal population at their Rowayton home seems to grow and grow.
Eliane’s mother gave her an egg incubator for her last birthday and now there is a chicken coop. “Every time I go away [on business] there are more animals around when I get home! It just doesn’t stop,” Volckert said with a laugh.
Both Eliane and Volckert are originally from Holland and both have roots in the global maritime shipping industry. While Eliane focuses on her equestrian career, Volckert continues in shipping through his primary line of business, Mid Ocean Marine, based in South Norwalk, and is co-founder of Clean Marine Energy, an international company that works to convert ships to run on cleaner fuel in the form of LNG (liquified natural gas).
“We are saving the world one ship at a time,” he said with a smile.
The couple are also involved in a network of safari lodges abutting Kruger National Park in South Africa, where they started a conservation project to reintroduce black rhinos into the wild.
Come spring, Millstone will be humming, just as before the change of ownership.
The farm will continue to supply about 30 families that belong to its CSA (community-supported agriculture) program and about a dozen chefs with produce. The farm will also continue to sell through Village Market its salad greens and eggs as well as its brand of products, including tomato sauce, salsas, pickles, and Bloody Mary mix.
Animals will continue to make Millstone Farm, which is Animal Welfare Approved, their home.
Grass-fed Shetland sheep are raised for wool and meat. There are about 1,000 free-range chickens raised for meat and there are also laying hens and a flock of turkeys.
Millstone Farm also raises Large Black, Tamworth and Berkshire pigs, which live outdoors.
And the farm is about to add a few beef cattle.
There are bees for honey, and right now metal buckets are hanging from maple trees to collect sap for syrup.
Events in the works that would open the farm to visitors include hawk watches and wild food foraging walks. The farm is also in discussions with the Wilton Land Conservation Trust on possibly defining trails people could walk on.
“We are working to instill a sense of conservation,” said Annie Farrell, who works at Millstone as a farmer.
Millstone Farm is also involved in a number of outreach activities.
One of the biggest is supporting Harlem Grown, a six-year-old nonprofit program that seeks to inspire young people to lead healthy and ambitious lives. It does this through mentorship and hands-on education in urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition. The organization sets about to reclaim abandoned city lots and turn them into urban “farms” where young people can work.
Millstone supports the program with seedlings and also welcomes young people from the program for workshops and other learning opportunities.
Millstone will also continue its support of the organic garden at Wilton High School.
Farm-to-table dinners will also continue to be served amidst the property’s rolling hills, supporting chef Tim LaBant from The Schoolhouse at Cannondale. Additionally, Millstone Farm will continue to host charitable events and fund-raisers, most notably the Riverbrook Regional YMCA’s Community Celebration, planned for June 4.
The farm will also increase its profile by updating its website with an events calendar. Right now, the best place to find out what is happening there is on Facebook and Instagram.