Friends of the Farm at Hilltop hosts Harvest Dinner event

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Suffield - posted Wed., Sep. 4, 2013
Janet and Anne Banks were pleased with the turnout for the Harvest Dinner. Photos by Lisa Stone.
Janet and Anne Banks were pleased with the turnout for the Harvest Dinner. Photos by Lisa Stone.

The Friends of the Farm at Hilltop held the 10th annual Harvest Dinner and Silent Auction on Aug. 31, as a way to raise money for the restoration of Hilltop Farm.

FOFAH is a non-profit organization that operates with the help of volunteers.  It has leased the 8-acre farm from the Town of Suffield for 10 years now. On Sept. 4, the organization purchased the land from the town for an undisclosed amount.  This is a huge step for the organization. “We have been maintaining the land during our lease, while making several improvements to the property,” said Janet Banks, president of FOFAH. “It would be a shame to allow this wonderful property to fall apart and eventually be torn down. This is a magnificent property and we really have high hopes for the future of the farm.”

Anne Banks, a member of the FOFAH Board of Directors, said, “We are so excited to be going to closing on the farm. We have worked very hard to get the farm to where it is now, but we have plans to bring the property to a new level.  We really want to use the farm as an educational tool. People can learn about the history of the farm as well as the history of agriculture in general.” Anne Banks added, “We are having a celebration of National Public Lands Day. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Hilltop Farms improvements in the back pasture is on Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a wagon ride down to the area where all the improvements have been done, and Northeast Utilities, among others, will be talking about what improvements have been done and why they were necessary.”

The Aug. 31 fundraiser was catered by Joe Ravelese of the Country Diner in Enfield. All produce served at the event was grown by local farmers. Music was provided by Fast Lane Band.

Steve and Kathy Wasseluk came from Burlington, Vermont, for the event. Kathy grew up in Windsor Locks, and still has ties to the area. Ray Wilcox, vice president of FOFAH, is a friend of the couple. “We came here to support our friend and be a part of this fundraiser,” said Steve Wasseluk. “Ray is very passionate about the organization and we want to do our part to help the cause.”

“We needed to build a fire escape for the safety of the people that would be going in and out of the barn, so we started building it approximately 18 months ago,” said Wilcox. “It is complete now. It looks wonderful. You would never know it wasn’t part of the original barn. For the flooring, we used wood that was harvested from Suffield trees and cut to match the barn’s flooring. I found some doors that look like old barn doors, and that is for the storage closet. I’m very excited with the finished product.”

One future project for the organization is the restoration of the large barn. So far, the barn has been hooked up to the sewer system, and water service is due to be installed very soon. FOFAH has also brought the electrical service of the barn up to a 400-amp service. These are all major improvements that are necessary for the organization’s plans. FOFAH is looking to partner with another farm or perhaps even the University of Connecticut. The future plans involve a farm store that will offer ice cream, as well as fresh produce and dairy products.

The organization holds special work days at the farm, when people come to lend their skills for different projects. To volunteer or donate to FOFAH, visit, or call 860-573-9786.

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