Breaking News — GVI Returns Wakeman Farm To The Town

Green Village Initiative and the Town of Westport just released this news.  “06880” will report further news as it becomes available. 

The board of directors of the local nonprofit Green Village Initiative and the office of the Westport Selectman announced today that GVI will end its lease of the Wakeman Town Farm & Sustainability Center.  “The farm and its improvements” will be returned to the town.

Over the past 2 years, the press release says, GVI has invested over $150,000 in the farm.  It has also arranged “in-kind donations from local businesses and (organized) thousands of volunteer hours between the GVI team, Staples interns and Builders Beyond Borders students.”

“We are grateful to GVI for its wonderful generosity in gifting the improvements and for the work it has done to restore the property to a working farm,” said First Selectman Gordon Joseloff.

“Through the application of funds and volunteers, and with the support of literally hundreds of families and local businesses, GVI in two years transformed the Farm into a new historical, refurbished facility that benefits the entire town.”

Added Selectwoman Shelly Kassen, “GVI has never wavered from its commitment to this community.  They are a gem that we can all be proud of.”

Three former GVI board members will continue providing support to the farm by assisting the town with its management.

GVI’s remaining 19 board members will “resume the work of carrying out the group’s mission.”

GVI chairman Dan Levinson said, “we at GVI have decided that the town is the best steward for this project long-term while we dedicate our efforts to other community-building and environmental projects in Westport and surrounding towns.  This outcome is best for the community, best for the farm, and best for GVI.”

Peter Wormser and Liz Milwe — GVI board members who left the board in the controversial decision not to renew the contract of “town farmer” Mike Aitkenhead — will stay active with the farm.

The couple said, “we think this is a great gift that should work extremely well long-term for the farm and the town.  It also works to keep the community and especially the kids involved with the future of The Farm.  GVI’s gift to the Town will be appreciated for generations to come.”

Over the past year, the press release said, the farm “has been managed by Mike and Carrie Aitkenhead, who are departing The Farm.”

The release added:

“The Aitkenheads were a great couple for The Farm and GVI is forever grateful for their hard work and enthusiasm and their good accomplishments at Wakeman’s,” said GVI board member Sal Gilbertie.

“They leave with our sincerest thanks and very best wishes for their continued success and good example to the Westport community.”

24 responses to “Breaking News — GVI Returns Wakeman Farm To The Town

  1. Who will pay the piper? Will this be a priority item for the Town budget?

  2. Who will pay the piper now? Will this be a Town-funded budgetitem?

  3. Ah, the smell of abstract nouns in the morning! A slick, stage-managed response that has been scrubbed of information and truth–committee’d into meaninglessness. Another languid, unsatisfactory response from a town that obfuscates instead of enlightens at every opportunity.

  4. August 14, 2021: The Westport Baron’s South Housing Corporation will end its lease of Baron’s South giving the operation back to the town of Westport. Westport 1st Selectman ________ said “Great, just what we always wanted, the town of Westport is now responsible for running a nursing home.”

  5. Thanks for the update, Dan. But there are still so many questions, needing answers.

  6. Do we have to give the $1 back?

  7. With the Aitkenheads leaving, no one wins.

  8. Glad GVI has been removed or separated from the WTF…. But if the town or towns or any other projects want to be done in concert with GVI then Dan Levinson must not be on the board

  9. The Dude Abides

    This seems to be pretty much a clusterf*&#. They commend everyone involved but terminate the agenda/relationship. Another example of governing by committee never works. I feel bad for Mike and his family. The Wakemans are turning in their graves.

  10. Lisa Marriott

    The people of the Town of Westport should look at this gift from GVI with the greatest of appreciation. GVI has worked hard in Westport and our surrounding communities to bring awareness to local sustainability and the need for our communities to work together. The work they have done at Sherwood Island, Mill Pond, Staples Garden, Bridgeport schools and many more projects are all signs of the good intentions and hard work they put in. I am sure the town and it’s new board will stick to the mission that GVI started and continue to maintain WTF as a community resource for all. Thank you to GVI, its board and all of the volunteers who made WTF the treasure it is to our town. In response to those who have written in before me, why not accept the gift graciously, understand that not everything that starts out with good intentions stays the course, sometimes people have to accept that there may be a better way and this is just one of those times. Let this new board meet, and I am sure we will all hear from them once they begin work and if you have some ideas or want to get involved I am sure if you post your name here the new board will contact you – the more townspeople helping, the better it works for everyone. And to all of you who are going to anonymously criticize me – go right ahead, I know that I for one am willing to help make this work. Lisa Marriott

  11. Absolutely time to look forward and Lisa, there are a lot of people willing to “make this work”. But none of us should have to read a press release like this, seemingly so devoid of any real information about what went down ON TOWN PROPERTY to an incredible family (the Aitkenheads) who gave so much of themselves so that we as a town could have a working farm like WTF! They have been shabbily treated by GVI and Dan Levinson in particular. Sorry but that’s the straight up truth and all the fundraising and Harvest Fairs in the world don’t change that. I think its shocking that this release speaks of potential for further involvement between GVI and the town. Huh??!! Surely GVI benefitted hugely in their ability to use Wakeman Farm to build their own business model. Come on Shelly, it’s not all one way, with GVI (“the gem we can all be proud of?? ‘). How many towns give a group access like that for $1 a year? GVI raked the Aitkenheads over the coals. What happened was wrong and the town of Westport (Gordon and Shelly) didn’t lead here…they sanitized….. I am so dismayed…..

  12. Setting the record straight

    The replies by Mrs. Doubtfire and RU Kidding Me seem to be wrongly targeting Lisa Marriott, not the person who commented immediately after her.

  13. I totally agree.
    Questions for Shelly (who I supported strongly when she ran) who is going to run the farm? How much will it cost the town? What is the plan? Will it be as excellent as it is now? Did you get financed committee approval to take it back? We should not go one step further with Barron-south until we get real answer from Shelly on how she caused and plans to manage this mess. How can you manage a multimillion dollar housing project if you can’t manage a tiny farm?
    Shelly, the farm was perfect the way it was, you should of not stepped in an ruined it. This government intervention against good people doing going work for free is enough for me to what to turn republican.
    X-democratic

  14. Lisa Marriot vs. Boy Scouts

    Based on the articles, GVI has received awards from the boy scouts, Sherwood Island, the EPA, the town, the state, etc, etc, etc. What award has Lisa been given lately?

    Senior center blogger of the year?

    • Please re-read Lisa’s comment. Future posts mis-attributing comments to her will be removed.

      • Agreed, Dan. Let’s all take the high road here, and leave only positive, constructive comments on this blog. We are invested in the Aitkenhead family and Wakeman Town Farm, and we will work toward that end as a community. ~ Elizabeth Beller

        • Please, no cheerleading. How about the truth and some transparency and a full accounting of what should be public information?

      • The Dude Abides

        Sounds like prior restraint, Professor. 1st amendment and all that? People misread comments all the time, many of them mine.

  15. The Dude Abides

    Yeah, I wish someone would just explain the difficulties encountered between Mike and his family and the GVI. They both seem like well-meaning folks. This hesitancy in just telling the truth just creates more havoc and finger pointing. Why so secretive??

  16. I agree with LAZ — This is a totally unsatisfying outcome. The problem was not that GVI leased the property, the problem was the dismissal (or whatever) of the much-loved Aitkenheads. GVI showed itself to be an unworthy steward of this town asset, so the town was correct to terminate the lease, but what about restoring the Aitkenheads? That’s the wrong that needs to be righted.