I drive past Auerfarm in Bloomfield all the time. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I drove up their long and winding road to explore their 120 acres and everything they have to offer. Before then, I would always just look at their road sign with a certain level of curiosity as to what Auerfarm was all about. Given its relationship to 4-H, I conjured up images of kids and cows. I don’t have any children. Also, I drink almond milk. On I drove.
After finally going to Auerfarm to visit friends who were going to their annual Fall Festival, I realized that my preconceived notions were off. At the Festival I ran into Pat Estill, a member of Auerfarm’s Board, who set me straight. While 4-H is a major component of Auerfarm, there is also a great deal of activities for everyone else. She rattled off a list of activities that would be perfect for me to do at Auerfarm: take a hike, snowshoe in the winter, go on a bird walk, picnic in the summer, bring a camera to take pictures of the wildlife and scenery, go on a garden tour, and attend an adult-oriented activity put on at Auerfarm.
For example, there will be a maple syrup making class on February 23rd. After making the syrup, attendees will get a literal taste of their work by chowing down on some pancakes. Who wouldn't like pancakes and homemade maple syrup?!
There is an adage in marketing that perception is reality. My perception of Auerfarm before my visit was far different from the reality once I drove up the road. This presents both an opportunity and challenge for Auerfarm moving ahead. How do they hold on to their rich history and traditions while also appealing to a greater array of people?
George S. Auerbach and Beatrice Fox Auerbach bought what is now Auerfarm in 1925. Two years later George died, leaving Beatrice to oversee the farming—despite the fact that she had no previous knowledge of farming. Over the next 40 years, Beatrice Fox Auerbach managed a production facility that featured 60 cows, over 20,000 chickens, and a 300-tree apple orchard. She also famously led G. Fox & Company from 1938 to 1965, becoming a pioneer for labor relations and the advancement of women and minorities in the workplace. Eggs from the farm were sold at G. Fox & Company. Dignitaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt visited the farm.
In 1976, eight years after Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s death, the farm was deeded to the non-profit 4-H Development Fund, Inc. with the understanding of maintaining the property as an open space and community resource. The Auerbachs wanted others to learn about the importance of agriculture to our daily life, and to enjoy the overall ambiance of the farm.
A few days ago I drove up to the farm to ask Pat Estill a few more questions. It was an unseasonably warm day in December. Driving up the road to meet her at the farm office, I stopped to check out the alpacas lingering in the field. Perhaps I’m easily amused, but I got a kick out of spotting a few alpacas just a stone’s throw from Mountain Road in West Hartford. I’ve attached my photo (be aware: the fence is electric).
Auerfarm will be holding a Christmas Tree Festival this Saturday, December 15th, from 11-2. Listen to Christmas music and drink hot chocolate as you pick out your tree. Stop by and say hello to Santa. Wreaths and garland will also for sale. If it’s a nice day, walk the grounds (maps available in the farm office). If you can’t make the event, trees will be sold until December 24th. Auerfarm is open to the public seven days a week.
As you can imagine, there are also animals—lots of them. What better way to celebrate Christmas than having a nativity scene brought to life? Walk through the barns at Auerfarm and check out the chickens, rabbits, sheep, and goats. On your drive out, wave goodbye to the alpacas.
Address: 158 Auer Farm Road, Bloomfield, CT
Questions, comments, or life advice can be sent to me here.