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Plot to Plate

Add a little salt from your own brow, and everything tastes better.



More rustic than the Bennetts’ property in West Cornwall, this vegetable garden is both sumptuous and attractive.

Photo by Don Fink

Bruce and Debby Bennett are well-versed in plots overflowing with ingredients for the table. Bruce Bennett pretty much cut his teeth on greens when his father suddenly realized that a farm was the secret formula for raising a big family cost-effectively. “In addition to eight kids, we had three hired hands, two grandparents, and my parents at the table,” Bruce recalls. Debby’s upbringing wasn’t quite so well-populated, but she was definitely into the back-to-the-land movement. 

When the two discovered chemistry (of the romantic kind) back in college, they also found that food was on their mutual menu. They wanted to go organic, and that option wasn’t readily available in regional supermarkets. They threw up some hoop houses, started their own seedlings, and figured they would be eating happily ever after. Even back then, they knew that they would be romping around in raised beds together for a lifetime. 

Fast forward to now—the couple owns Kent Greenhouse & Gardens—following the Bennetts’ purchase of a 70-acre West Cornwall property in 2000. Fifty acres are in conservation easement, seven acres are cleared, and half an acre is devoted to sustenance. We’re talking all the fixings from appetizers (fresh from the asparagus patch) to dessert (thanks to Debby’s addiction to berry sherbets). They have an orchard, a vineyard, kiwi vines, berry patches, plus a prodigious vegetable plot. Their freezer is overflowing, they eat their own produce from the first arugula of the season up until the last acorn and butternut squash of winter. “Everybody must have a vegetable garden” is Bruce Bennett’s line.

On their own land, the Bennetts are deep into crops that can make the leap into the freezer—including asparagus, peas, and broccoli. A variety of lettuces are a must for salads as well as Swiss chard, kale, and potatoes, in addition to more arcane menu-boosters such as Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, and bok choy. Tomatoes are indispensable. But rather than living in constant fear of late blight, Debby has turned to disease-resistant varieties such as ‘Defiant’, ‘Iron Lady’, ‘Mountain Merit’, and ‘Mountain Magic’. For extending the spinach season, she opts for downy mildew resistant spinach ‘Corvair’. 

To keep the plots pumping out produce, these organic gardeners compost their own horse manure. Composting is just one part of a “closed system” policy that the couple developed to prevent weed seeds from infiltrating their noxious-weed-free zone. In addition, they start 90 percent of their own seedlings to eliminate potential disease importation onto the land. 

What are some suggestions for success with regional vegetable gardens? Siting the garden in sun is a must. Although some vegetables (lettuce comes to mind) can tolerate partial shade, the bounty of veggies prefer a generous daily dosage of sunbeams in New England. A nearby water source will lead to fewer hassles and backaches. Once an appropriate location has been selected, Bruce suggests a 20 foot-by-20 foot configuration composed of raised beds with at least three feet between beds. A four-foot corridor down the middle of the configuration is invaluable for wheelbarrow manipulation.

A fence is essential. Four-feet-high is what Bruce recommends for a small area. “Deer won’t jump into a small space,” he claims. “A post-and-wire fence is not necessarily the most attractive option, but it is the most practical.” Wire lets in abundant light, and it does the job. Given a good-looking gate and kept tidy, a well-designed vegetable garden is the new boasting point for real estate.

With the hardscape in place, you can move on to the tasty part. What you grow should be dictated by meal preferences rather than what looks great in the garden. Rather than planting a checkerboard of varying lettuce hues, for example, plant rows and gobble them up without worrying about the design. 

Bennett also recommends bird houses. “If you’re having trouble with bugs, hire a sparrow,” he suggests. No matter what the food preferences of the various local populations might be, put in a vegetable garden and everyone in the region will eat better. So dig in. Dining out just gained a whole new meaning.


KEEP IT COMING: Some vegetables mature over the long haul. Cabbages, Brussels sprouts, and tomatoes take months to reach prime. Bush beans, lettuce, and summer squash can be harvested in 30 to 50 days. Plant rows every few weeks so the salads and casseroles don’t skip a beat. 

 

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September 2017

 The Litchfield Historical Society and the Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy invite you for a book talk and reception on Sunday, September 24 at 3 p.m. with Roger D. Stone, author of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society and Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
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This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
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CT Largest Agricultural Fair has pretty much everything! Performances by Brothers Osborne, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Military appreciation Day with USO Show, new this year a Lumberjack...

Cost: Free-$35 (not including rides)

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24 Townhouse Road
Durham, CT
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Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
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Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
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 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
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Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
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The WCSU Alumni Association will host The Neil Wagner Golf Outing with a 10 a.m. shotgun start at the Richter Park Golf Club, 100 Aunt Hack Road in Danbury. Proceeds from the annual event will...

Cost: $175

Where:
Richter Park Golf Club
100 Aunt Hack Road
Danbury, CT  06810
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Website »

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Painter Stanley Lewis will discuss his work at 11 a.m. in Room 144 of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The event will...

Cost: Free

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave. Extension
Danbury, CT  06810
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This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
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Join us as we welcome Mark Scarbrough, a scholar on 19th Century American literature, as he leads a five week session exploring literature, politics and culture in the United States through the...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
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Website »

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The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
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Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
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Author, Filmmaker and Educator, Tom Shachtman, will offer a visual presentation followed by a signing on his recently published book, How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors Diplomats, Luis...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Website »

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This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

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Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

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The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

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 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

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For over 30 years, Green Chimneys has been opening its doors to the community for Little Folk Farm Day, welcoming scores of young people to explore our bustling Brewster campus. Play groups,...

Cost: infants under 2 - Free; Adults - Free; Children 2 & older -@ $10

Where:
Green Chimneys
400 Doansburg Rd.
Brewster, NY  10509
View map »


Sponsor: Green Chimneys
Telephone: 845-279-2995 ext 307
Contact Name: Gail Dickerman
Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

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The White Hart Speaker Series is presented in collaboration with Oblong Books & Music & Scoville Memorial Library ADMISSION IS FREE.  THE PURCHASE OF A BOOK AT THE EVENT SUPPORTS...

Cost: Free

Where:
White Hart Inn
15 Under Mountain Road
Salisbury, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Bridge Healing Arts Center Hosts an open house for practitioners of the healing arts to explore Connecticut’s first synergistic wellness community. Providers will now be able to refer...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bridge Healing Arts Center
304 Main Street
Farmington, CT  06032
View map »


Sponsor: Bridge Healing Arts Center
Telephone: 860-710-5504
Contact Name: Vera Halina
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

WCSU will present the "Best Darn Jazz Club in Danbury" at 8 p.m. in the Colonial Corner in the Student Center on the university's Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Admission...

Cost: Free

Where:
WCSU Midtown Campus
181 White Street
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Little Free Library Stewards Rose Buckens and Jo Ann Jaacks will host a combined indoor tag sale fundraiser and informational gathering at St. Michael’s Community House, 23 South Street, just...

Cost: Free

Where:
St. Michael's Community House
23 South Street
Just off the Litchfield Green
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Little Free Library at StoneHill
Telephone: 203-770-4156
Contact Name: Rose Buckens
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society’s Saturday morning walking tours are exploring new sites in town. Each tour lasts about an hour—make sure to bring a bottle of water and wear...

Cost: Free for members; $5 non-members

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan
Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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