There is something quintessentially New England about barns, stone walls, and quilts and if you are a fan, you just might explore the New Milford Barn Quilt Trail. This trail is a self-guided tour that consists of eight colorful quilt patterns painted on large wood blocks that are hung on antique and vintage barns around New Milford.
The idea of the trail is to honor the rich agricultural history of Litchfield Hills, the exciting resurgence of farming in New Milford today and the American tradition of quilt-making. It is the first barn quilt trail to be established in Connecticut.
There are eight barns on the trail.
Holstein Cow, Wieting Farm
19 Wheaton Road
The design was inspired by "Patriotic Cow," by quilter Mary Henzel of Oberlin, Kansas, although the Wieting cow design is black and white, rather than the original brown. This is because the Wietings have maintained a dairy herd of black and white Holsteins at the farm for more than 40 years. The English-style barn was rebuilt in the 1920s after a fire when it was part of the Carlson Farm. The current barn was built on the same footprint and incorporates some surviving timbers of a barn possibly from the 19th century.
Hunt Hill Farm Trust
44 Upland Road
A country cultural and culinary nonprofit is housed in a repurposed 19th-century bank barn. It was founded in the early 21st century by famed bandleader Skitch Henderson and his wife, Ruth, with a mission of "cultivating love of the land, food and the arts." The red heart on the upper left corner of the barn quilt block symbolizes love; the flower in the upper right corner, the land; the basket of fruits and vegetables in the lower left corner, food; and the artist's palette and musical notes in the lower right corner, the arts. The 137-acre farm was established by the Hendersons in the 1970s by combining two farms formerly owned by the Hine and Buckingham families.
Maple Leaves, Smyrski Farm
227 Merryall Road
The quilt depicts a solid eight-pointed star in its center with stylized maple leaves in each corner. The design symbolizes maple syrup production, one of the several agricultural items produced there today. A dairy operation until the mid-1980s, the farm is named for Adam Smyrski, who emigrated from Poland in the early 1900s. It was donated to Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust Inc., Connecticut's largest land trust. In 2008 by the last remaining Smyrski children. The 220-acre property produces hay, livestock and maple syrup and hosts environmental education programs.
North Star, Lillis Farm
241 Litchfield Road (Route 202)
The quilt block, with its popular North Star quilt square design, is hung on a white barn that originally housed workhorses. The year 1929 appears on two of the barn doors. A nearly identical dairy barn stands a few hundred feet to the south. The farm is no longer actively worked.
Maple Leaf, Sullivan Farm
140 Park Lane Road
This barn quilt block design, adapted from a popular 1880 design, highlights maple syrup production, one of several agricultural goods produced there today. High school and college students tap maple trees throughout southern Litchfield County in late winter, producing maple syrup at the on-site sugarhouse. The landmark barn, on which the barn quilt block is hung, was built in 1869 by William Sullivan. He was the great-grandfather of Jake Sullivan, who sold the dairy farm to the town, stating in the deed that the farm always be used to benefit the community. Today, young interns at the repurposed farm grow a wide range of produce that is sold at the on-site farm stand, through area farmers markets, and in local specialty grocery stores.
Five Leaves, Bright Green Farm
173 Ridge Road
The five different leaves depicted on this barn quilt block are rich in meaning for the Duffy-Reisberg family, who purchased this antique farm in 2016. The chestnut leaf in the upper left corner represents historic Chestnut Land, the name of the 19th-century district of the original subsistence farm, which belonged to the Canfield Family. The birch leaf in the lower left corner represents the Duffy-Reisbergs' heritage in Eastern Europe, where birch trees abound. The maple leaf in the lower right corner is a nod to the mature maple trees that line the driveway. The apple leaf in the upper right corner commemorates the apple trees on the farm that legend holds were planted sometime after the Civil War. According to Karen Duffy, the bright green elm leaf in the center of the design symbolizes Mother Earth, signifying the "bright green" school of environmentalism that focuses on sustainability, a core value at the farm.