Harris Hill Farm has a rich heritage in the Connecticut farming community. We began as a dairy farm located on Prospect Street in Wethersfield, at the top of a hill. George W. Harris, pictured on the left, was among the first farmers to import a specific breed of dairy cattle - Brown Swiss - to the United States. He acquired his first Brown Swiss in 1882 and the farm made its first exhibition of the breed in 1883.
George G. Harris and wife Vivian moved the farm to its current location on Ridge Road in New Milford which they purchased from the Gero family in 1957. The original barn (where our farm animals currently are) was built in 1928, and George added on two larger barns as his herd grew. The Harris family milked 100 cows and grew corn and hay on the surrounding fields.
The Harris family, pioneers in the Brown Swiss industry, developed a successful genetics and breeding program and became well-known for top quality animals. Bulls from Harris Hill Farm went on to sire cows that made the National Honor Roll for milk production and took home top honors at exhibitions across the country. On the left is a picture from The Big E, George G. Harris (left) with Harris Hill "Tessy".
In the late 1980's, Harris Hill Farm ceased its commercial dairy operations and began to focus on other agricultural ventures. In the Fall of 1993 we opened the farm for our first pumpkin patch season and started hosting school groups for educational field trips. Teaching children about agriculture and farming was a passion of George G. and Vivian's, and they built a special room for workshops. The farm has also hosted a number of agricultural events, including Farm-City Days in 2000.
George G. remained actively involved in the Brown Swiss community even after dispersing his herd. He served as Executive Secretary for the National Brown Swiss Association from 1988 to 1994. George, an expert in the breed, was called upon frequently to judge Brown Swiss exhibitions across the state, country, and even the world. He enjoyed always keeping a few of the cows around at Harris Hill Farm, and helped granddaughter Sarah, now the fifth generation, to raise and exhibit the breed.
After the losses of Vivian (2008) and George G. (2012), their children George O., Susan and Janet honored the Harris legacy of agricultural excellence and education by working with both the town of New Milford and state of Connecticut to preserve Harris Hill Farm. The barns and 80 acres will forever be open space available for future generations of farmers to tend.
In 2015 the New Milford Farmland Preservation Committee announced the creation of the Harris Family Agricultural Scholarship, which will benefit New Milford students going into the agricultural field. Vivian was an advocate for farms and believed in educating youth about the importance of agriculture, so we know that she would be immensely pleased with this!
photo by Norm Cummings/Spectrum
The barns at Harris Hill Farm were included in the New Milford Barn Quilt Trail, the first of its kind in the state. Susan Bailey was a key member of the committee to establish the trail in town. Our colorful quilt square features an brown cow, to honor our history with Brown Swiss cattle, and an orange cow, giving a nod to our pumpkin patch. See more about the trail on the New Milford Farmland & Forest Preservation Committee's website.
photo courtesy of the New Milford Barn Quilt Trail
Today, the Harris family continues to operate a pumpkin patch every October. The New Milford Youth Agency uses some of the land to grow vegetables for their farm stand. The farm also leases space to fellow farmers who plant feed corn. Thank you for reading about Harris Hill Farm and please feel free to contact us with any questions!