Festival highlights agricultural growth

Sunday’s Nutmegger Cheese and Wine Festival wasn’t just about the tasty free treats offered by the state dairy farmers and chefs, it was also a day to promote the future growth of state agriculture.

Gov. Dannel Malloy came to Shelton’s Jones Farms on Sunday to support the first annual Nutmegger Cheese and Wine Festival. The event featured more than a dozen of the state’s artisan cheesemakers, wineries, bakers and chefs, who offered free samples of their goods.

“George Washington called us the ‘provision state’ without which we could not have won the Revolutionary War,” Malloy said. “We want to be back in that business in a big way. We want to get more lands into production, more meat, more fowl — to make sure our children can relate to the food they are eating.”

The event supported the Working Lands Alliance and the Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools (VITAHLS).

The festival was held at the Pumpkinseed Hill Farm, where, according to Terry Jones, there would be 83 homes today, if it wasn’t for the work of the WLA, Mayor Mark Lauretti and the state Department of Agriculture.

“This is the result of forward-thinking and land preservation,” Jones said.

Mayor Lauretti welcomed newcomers to Shelton and thanked them for their support.

“We must continue to balance the needs of the economy and preservation,” Lauretti said.

The event also drew U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-3), state Commissioner of Agriculture Steven K. Reviczky and state Rep. Larry Miller (R-122).

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, which is part of the VITAHLS efforts in Valley schools spoke on the importance of promoting better health and nutrition when children are young.

“Alarm bells have been sounding for us for decades with obesity, diabetes and heart disease affecting so many, taking years from life and life from years,” Dr. Katz said. “We’ve been making bad use of our feet, forks and fingers.”

To learn more about VITAHLS, visit GriffinHealth.org.

To learn more about the Working Lands Alliance visit WorkingLandsAlliance.org.