Tag Archives: Wakeman Town Farm

COVID Roundup: No Camp? WTF!; Barbers; Playhouse Match; Senior Photos; More

How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm?

This summer at least, you can’t. Wakeman Town Farm announced that its popular Farm Camps will not run this summer. Officials cited the many restrictions put on camps by the state; the challenges of social distancing; the limited number of children who could be served, and “the unknowns related to pediatric reactions to the virus.”

WTF hopes to offer small tours and experiences, private family and corporate visits, outdoor curbside pizza pickups, volunteer opportunities and small-group apprentice programs. Details will be announced soon.


Barber shops can reopen on Monday (June 1). There are sure to be changes, in routine and personnel.

Three of Westport’s favorites — Chau Damico, Tony Esposito and Tina Cao — will be back at work. They’ve moved, though — but not far at all.

After decades at Compo Barber Shop, the trio can be found now at Westport Hair & Co. That’s the salon next to now-closed Olympia Sports, a few yards east in the same Compo Shopping Center.

They look forward to seeing the customers they’ve missed, and welcome their texts: Chau (203-278-0467), Tony (203-222-0303) and Tina (203-909-8781).


This morning, “06880” profiled the Saugatuck Rowing Club’s efforts to help front line workers, local restaurants, and club employees and members.

Now they’ve tweaked their logo. The goal of any crew team is to “pull together.” Saugatuck’s rowers may not be racing now. But every day since the pandemic began, that’s exactly what they’ve done.


The Westport Country Playhouse was hit hard by the coronavirus. All 2020 programs have been moved to 2021 (though a wide range of online content keeps audiences engaged). Financially, they’ve taken a huge hit.

Their “Survival Fund” goal is ambitious: $1.6 million. But it got a big boost this week, with a pledge from Edwin and Maureen Schloss. They’ll match every dollar raised — up to $250,000 — between now and July 4.

This would have been the Playhouse’s 90th season. Ed has been around for more than half of them. In 1969, he and his parents attended the world premiere of “Butterflies Are Free,” starring Blythe Danner and Keir Dullea. The show moved to Broadway, and Danner won a Tony there.

Tax deductible contributions may be made by clicking here, or texting WCPMATCH to 71777.


Staples High School’s seniors won’t get a traditional graduation next month. But they’ll be celebrated by Westport Lifestyle Magazine, in the August issue.

Hi-res photos — serious or fun — should be sent by June 5 to robin.chung@lifestylepubs.com. Include names, and a quote about summer plans or other positive thoughts.


Ariana Napier’s Bridgeport Rescue Mission food drive continues. Her goal is to collect 1,000 pounds of good each week.

Items most in need now: cereal; mac and cheese (box); jelly (no glass), and canned vegetables.

Fod and/or personal care items (diapers, wipes, sanitary pads, etc.) can be dropped in bins in Arianas driveway (14 Jennings Court, off Bayberry Lane). She will also pick up from your driveway. Email ariana.napier@gmail.com.


And finally … what has former Beach Boy Mike Love been up to these days?

God only knows. Well, YouTube does too:

 

Pic Of The Day #1130

Wakeman Town Farm trail (Photo/Arpad Krizsan)

Zero Waste Roundtable Set For Wakeman Town Farm

Reducing the amount of daily waste is a priority for many Westporters. But although we want to do the right thing, we don’t always know how.

Wakeman Town Farm does.

This Monday (January 13, 7 to 8:15 p.m.), the Cross Highway sustainability center hosts an environmental awareness event. The multi-generational roundtable will offer information on how Westport schools combat waste, how we can incorporate initiatives into our own homes, and what we can do to help government effect greater changes.

State Senator Will Haskell will moderate the discussion. Participants include Stacy Jagerson Fowle and Ashley Moran, elementary school teachers who have helped lead the district’s push toward composting and zero waste; Bedford Middle School 7th grader Samantha Henske, a student leader in the fight for climate justice, and RTM member Andrew Colabella, who helped implement Westport’s plastics ban.

Monday’s event is free, but registration is required. Click here to register.

Greens Farms Elementary School offers 3 choices for waste. To find out what your family can do, head to Wakeman Town Farm on Monday night.

Pics Of The Day #964

Last night, Wakeman Town Farm invited everyone to its Christmas tree lighting …

… and as soon as the lights went on …

… the kids got down to business. (Photos/Betsy P. Kahn)

Persona Of The Week: WTF’s Liz Milwe And Christy Colasurdo

If you can’t — or won’t — trek to New York for tonight’s Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center: no problem!

Wakeman Town Farm’s annual tree lighting is this Friday (December 6, 4:30 to 6 p.m.).

That’s just one of the many events taking place regularly at community farm/sustainability center/gathering spot.

This week, Persona’s Rob Simmelkjaer interviews Liz Milwe and Christy Colasurdo. They chat about all the great things happening all year long at WTF.

(Friday’s tree lighting at Wakeman Town Farm is free, and open to all. There’s music, marshmallows, cocoa, cookies — and a collection box for unwrapped toys, courtesy of Al’s Angels.)

Broad Horizons At Wakeman Town Farm

It always feels good to attend a fundraiser for a local organization. (And there are many fundraisers and groups in Westport.)

You eat and drink well. You’re entertained, and can win cool auction and raffle items. Plus, you’re contributing to a worthy cause.

However, you don’t always know exactly where your money goes.

If you attended last fall’s Harvest Fest at Wakeman Town Farm though, read on. (Keep reading if you didn’t go too, of course.)

Some of those funds went to support Horizons at Sacred Heart University. The tuition-free academic enrichment program serves low-income Bridgeport students in kindergarten through 8th grade. It’s one of 60 national chapters.

Thanks to Harvest Fest, more than 170 youngsters came to WTF last week. They learned about life on a farm, and got hands-on experiences with animals and plants.

Learning about life at Wakeman Town Farm.

On Friday, they had a huge pizza party. Volunteers fired up the new wood oven, donated by Robin Tauck (with stone from the Gault Family, and a gas grill by the Wormser family). Transportation was underwritten by Bankwell Westport.

But none of it would have been possible without help from Harvest Fest.

Remember that the next time you head to a fundraiser. The catered food and fancy wine is wonderful. Tickets to a Yankees Stadium suite, or a vacation at someone’s Caribbean home, is nice.

But the true joy comes when your money is put to good, real, important use.

Every kid loves pizza. Every counselor worries about the time. (Photos/Robert Osgood)

Meet The Montonis: Wakeman Town Farm’s New Stewards

Many Westporters know and love Wakeman Town Farm.

Many others are only vaguely aware.

They’ve heard of it — maybe driven past on Cross Highway — but have no clue what goes on at the sustainable living/education/event center that in 2010, after a century as a private family farm, went back to its roots under town ownership.

John and Jennifer Montoni were in that second category.

Now they’re Wakeman Town Farm’s new caretakers.

Nico, John, Jen and JC Montoni, on their front porch at Wakeman Town Farm.

The couple — Norwalk natives who moved to Westport nearly a decade ago, in large part for the schools — follow in the footsteps of Mike and Carrie Aitkenhead. WTF’s first stewards had 2 young children, and brought a family vibe to the farm and farmhouse that for 3 generations had been owned by the Wakemans.

After 7 years, the Aitkenheads were followed by Corey Thomas. His focus was on education offerings. When his 2-year contract ended this year, the WTF board decided to split the roles. John Montoni — who had his own construction firm — was the perfect choice for the property management role.

(Farah Masani, a local farmer and former food procurement specialist at the Barteca Group, will now lead the teen apprentice program. Chryse Terrill, a longtime educator, has been hired as the “Little Farmers” director.)

John has a big task. But until last winter, he and his wife — a former hair stylist who earned her nursing degree in 2014 — knew virtually nothing about the  2 1/2-acre place. It includes a farmhouse, working farm, gardens, and Community-Supported Agriculture shed.

Wakeman Town Farm: Westport’s sustainability center.

Last winter, they attended a Staples High School wrestling team fundraiser there. (Their oldest son, JC, was a co-captain.)

WTF — with the new Tim’s Kitchen inside, and a welcoming patio outdoors — has become a great party and event site, for non-profits, private organizations, even individuals. John and Jen were amazed at the facility, and excited to learn the back story.

Christy Colasurdo, WTF committee co-chair emeritus, told them the farm was always looking for volunteers. With JC ready to head off to Bentley College, and son Nico entering his sophomore year at Brunswick School, John and Jen were happy to find a way to stay involved in the community.

When the steward/caretaker role came open, the Montonis quickly stepped up.

With Jen and their sons’ help, John oversees and maintains the property, handles animal chores, manages employees and helps volunteers.

JC, Nico and John Montoni at work on Wakeman Town Farm.

Since moving in July 1, he’s worked on a new chicken coop (and will build a new run); helped with the new pizza oven; gotten sprinklers up and running; is installing an outdoor sink, and washer/dryer, and performed the maintenance chores any homeowner knows well.

But not many homeowners care for goats, alpacas and other animals. Or an enormous vegetable garden that takes up much of their land.

The Montonis love their new life. “Everyone is great,” Jen says of the ever-changing cast of volunteers, campers, counselors, committee members, chefs and CSA members. “And they’re all here because they want to be.”

“There’s always something going on,” JC notes. “This is a very cool old house. And it’s great to have a farm in the back yard.”

As with everyone at WTF, John and Jen are learning a lot. “I never thought I’d be taking care of alpacas!” he laughs.

The goats are his favorite animal. He calls them “mischievous, smart troublemakers, with a cool personality. They’ll walk right up to you, and chew on anything.”

John and Jen Montoni, with friends.

Each day, John says, Wakeman Town Farm is “full of life and activity.” At night it’s “quiet, and magical.” He and Jen sit on the porch, listening to the animals.

They look forward to whatever lies ahead — including new chores. They know each season will be different. They’ll continue learning, working, and keeping the farm fresh — and family friendly.

Another Sign Of The Times

Westporters have a complex relationship with advertising signs.

We don’t want them clogging traffic islands — particularly when they’re illegal.

But for non-profits, they’re great vehicles for passing the word to passersby.

Alert “06880” reader/avid volunteer Amy Ancel writes:

People have been removing non-profits’ event yard signs from areas all over town — even those permitted and approved by the first selectman’s office.

This week’s thefts include signs for the Westport Library Book Sale and Wakeman Town Farm’s Family Fun Day.

I checked with Chip Stephens of the Planning and Zoning Commission. He and fellow commissioner Al Gratrix stopped removing illegal signs a year ago.

So it appears that members of the general public are removing our signs from town roads. They can’t do that!

Of course, commercial signs — like for Mosquito Joe, Hauling Unlimited and kids’ camps — are not legal anywhere.

But non-profit event signs are legal. They are approved by the first selectman’s office, for specific locations. They should not be touched by the public. This includes traffic islands maintained by local businesses.

These signs are one of two main ways non-profits have of advertising special events. (The other is social media.)

And these signs cost a lot of money. We try to reuse them, to create less waste!

We spend a lot of time and energy placing them. We’re only allowed 15 signs per event. It’s so aggravating to see them go missing almost as soon as we put them up!

Chef Brian Lewis Flays Competition

There’s always something going on at Wakeman Town Farm.

Last night, for example, Tim’s Kitchen was the site of an intimate chefs’ dinner.

Brian Lewis — chef/owner of the wildly popular Cottage and OKO — hosted the event, as part of a sold-out series.

What the guests didn’t know is that one of the dishes on the menu — English pea sachetti with robiola cheese, lemon brown butter and sage crumbs — was the same one Lewis had cooked when he taped “Beat Bobby Flay.”

Brian Lewis, cooking last night at Wakeman Town Farm …

And the episode aired that very night.

So as guests enjoyed their great meal, the rest of America was watching Chef Lewis go head to head with Bobby Flay.

Dessert included viewing the competition on TV.

The icing on the cake: Lewis won!

… and on TV.

“06880” is pleased to pass on this very tasty tidbit.

(Hat tip: Christy Colasurdo)

$10,000 Non-Profit Grants Available From Westport Woman’s Club

In 2015, a $5,000 grant enabled Earthplace to update maps of their 74-acre sanctuary. Visitors can now find all trails — including those suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.

In 2016, a gift of $10,000 helped Project Return repaint their historic North Compo Road home.

A 2017 grant of nearly $5,000 gave the Westport Astronomical Society a new solar telescope for its Rolnick Observatory.

Last year, Wakeman Town Farm used $1,200 to purchase an innovative mobile chicken coop.

Wakeman Town Farm’s mobile chicken coop.$10.

All of those “Ruegg Grants” came from the Westport Woman’s Club. Established in 1995 by former member Lea Ruegg, they’re given each spring to a local non-profit with a project that makes a meaningful difference in social services, health, safety, the arts or education.

Other previous recipients include ITN Coastal Connecticut, CLASP Homes, the Westport Police Department, Hall-Brooke Hospital, Interfaith Housing, Mercy Learning Center, Toquet Hall, the Westport Rotary Club, Staples Players and the Westport Library.

Your organization could be next. The Woman’s Club is accepting submissions now through March 8.

The Westport Woman’s Club is no Jenny-come-lately to the field of philanthropy. Since 1907 they’ve supported area educational, charitable, cultural and health services. (Their first projects: sidewalks, bathrooms at Compo Beach, and hot lunches and vaccinations in schools.)

Ruegg Grants are now one of their signature projects. For an application, click here. To learn more about the Westport Woman’s Club, click here or call 203-227-4240.