Fog falling onto a grassy landscape on Fort Hill Farm.
Sunny Valley Preserve Fort Hill Farm at Sunny Valley Preserve © TNC


The Nature Conservancy Celebrates 50 Years at the Sunny Valley Preserve

The milestone marks decades of conservation, farming and education in Connecticut.

Media Contacts

  • Susan Wollschlager
    Director of Marketing and Communications, Connecticut
    The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is celebrating 50 years of working at the Sunny Valley Preserve: In 1973, the land officially came into TNC's care so that it would be protected while supporting sustainable farming and education.

From the start, this unique conservation project, spanning New Milford and Bridgewater, focused on the idea that protecting the planet and feeding its growing population could go hand-in-hand. In response, its 450 acres of working farmland are managed alongside 1,450 acres of natural areas with over 18 miles of hiking trails for the public.

“Sunny Valley has certainly evolved over the decades, but the heart and soul of this work has remained the same: to protect the land and all of its wildlife and vegetation while nourishing local communities through farming methods that work with the land, rather than just making use of it,” says Wayne Woodard, TNC's Sunny Valley preserve director.

At Sunny Valley, TNC continues to carry out the science-based conservation vision of George Pratt, Jr., who donated the land. His father purchased Sunny Valley Farm in 1934, and Pratt went on to protect more than a dozen separate pieces of open or wooded lands in the area from developers. In 1973, he donated them to TNC. Over time, after significant capital improvements, four primary farms were established on the parcel and leased to farmers. The result is one of Connecticut’s most exceptional protected spaces, teeming with educational opportunities, diverse plants and animals, a strong sense of community and working farms.

Sustainable farming methods aren’t just a Connecticut conversation; they’re a global concern, given farming’s connections to greenhouse gases and climate change.

“We’re proud that Sunny Valley is an example of land preservation, and also of the long-term positive impact that sustainable agriculture can have on the environment,” adds Laura Shail, TNC's office administrator for Sunny Valley. “So many people of all ages across our state have had the chance to hear about that work, while also learning about the natural habitats that are supported here. We look forward to the next 50 years and beyond.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. The Nature Conservancy is working to make a lasting difference around the world in 77 countries and territories (41 by direct conservation impact and 36 through partners) through a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on X.