Rocky Corner’s 33 acres were part of a larger farm owned by the Meyers/Halter family. The land was in the original center of Bethany Parish near a church and a schoolhouse. In the 1800’s, the family produced vegetables and eggs on Rocky Corner Farm. Before she died in the 1990’s, Elsie Halter cared for up to 30 dairy cows, working them through the stonewall-lined pastures we still see today. Portions of the larger farm were sold off as the years passed, and adjoining land is now owned by Yale, the Regional Water Authority, and other private landowners.
The original 1750s-era farmhouse last occupied by Elsie Halter is still standing, but is in very poor condition and is probably not a candidate for rehabilitation, much to our deep dismay. It is a rare specimen of a half house and contains chestnut timbers and wide chestnut planks and doors with original hardware. The lower portion of the house has disintegrated due to water infiltration, mold and dry rot. At the least we will deconstruct the house and use the valuable chestnut materials in our common house or when rebuilding this farmhouse. The last of the barns fell down this past winter. The foundations of various farm buildings may be useful for new barns, a pavilion and a propagation house. An old dug well with a huge stone cover sits just outside the back door of the farmhouse.
There is one pear tree remaining from Elsie Halter’s little orchard. We have rescued some scion from this delicious pear tree and the scion will be used to propagate some new trees. There are several other excellent tree specimens including productive chestnuts, butternut, sugar maple, red and white oak. The soil is excellent quality having been cow pasture for years. It needs weeding, deep ripping to eliminate the plow pan, and cover cropping to revitalize it. We will work to bring back the native species of plants and grasses through rotational grazing of ruminents and poultry. We will construct a pond where the water puddles, to enhance habitat for increased species diversity.
Farming and gardening will be a significant part of the lives of those who wish to participate. The Rocky Corner buildings are grouped together, so that our homes do not overwhelm the land, but become an integrated part of it. We will easily and naturally feel the connections—ourselves, our homes, the land, and the places where our food is growing. Our intent is to create a farm that will provide a substantial amount of the food our community needs and provide space for private gardens as well. We are hoping to work with a local conservation organization to put the majority of the land under a permanent agricultural easement.
Our land is adjacent to protected watershed owned by the Regional Water Authority. Lake Chamberlain is one of the primary reservoirs for the city of New Haven. It lies a short distance due east of Rocky Corner. The lake is surrounded by trails which can be used for hiking, horses and skiing. A public access walking and horse trail easement will run around a small portion of the Rocky Corner property, across neighboring 100+ acre Spykman Preserve, to the Water Authority land and reservoir.