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GOSHEN - When Richard Weigold looks up at a former hayloft window at 59 Old Middle St., he sees himself as a child in the postwar years, tossing hay bales down to his brother for the family farm.
Now he owns the building and the 7.4 acres on which it sits; and in April, he opened Northern Farm and Forestry, Goshen’s only plant nursery.
“It’s great that this building is staying agricultural,” said Weigold, a Cornwall resident, standing near a hothouse where herbs, flowers and other plants were soaking up sun on a mid-May morning. He has learned that the building was constructed in the 1940s and was a dairy farm until the late 1970s.
By opening the nursery, Weigold is honoring a family tradition of farming and farm-related activities, he said.
“My great-grandfather, Arthur Weigold, was the first to homogenize milk when he ran the Torrington Creamery on Riverside Avenue,” he said.
“Believe it or not, it was an accident,” he said. “At the creamery, to move milk throughout the plant, they used glass pipe. It was thick, a quarter-inch thick, and there were bleeder valves every so often. At night, when they were done moving the milk throughout the plant, they would open up these bleeder valves and pump hot water through it to sterilize the pipes.”
But once, one bleeder valve accidentally was left open after the sterilization process, and when plant workers ran milk through the pipes, the milk was heated and the cream did not separate, he said.
This fortuitous accident occurred in 1919, and put Torrington Creamery in the history books as the first creamery in the United States to homogenize milk for commercial sale, according to connecticutmills.org.
Weigold said he and his wife, Cara, always have been interested in plants, and when the property in Goshen became available last year, he purchased it.
“Even pre-COVID, there has been a huge movement toward homesteading, a resurgence of small farmers, people leaving big corporations and going back to basics,” he said. “When we found this building, we thought it would be a perfect location. We have great exposure here on Route 63. It's a busy road.”
For now, Weigold is propagating herbs, flowers and shrubs for resale, as well as vegetable starters for replanting. “We are not going to do vegetables. We will sell tomato plants, but not tomatoes. There is no shortage of farm stands to buy produce,” he said.
“The longer-term plan would be a full-sized nursery and you-pick flower area,” he said. “We are going to continue to build out our nursery and eventually we will have a full-sized greenhouse. We might grow some fruit trees here, but not an orchard.”
An area on the south side of the building will be used for growing chrysanthemums, protected by a shade cloth, he said.
The nursery is an homage to his father’s side of the family, but another business he owns honors his mother’s side.
Weigold Floor Covering, at 148 East Albert St. in Torrington, is a direct descendant of A. A. Smith on City Hall Avenue.
Wolcott House on East Main Street was owned by his maternal grandfather and two great-uncles, and featured furniture, bedding and flooring. “In 1980, my mother and father made a decision that they were going to go strictly flooring,” Weigold said.
The couple sold the flooring business in 1991, but in 1997 Weigold and his father opened Weigold Floor Covering on Migeon Avenue. It later was moved to the southeast corner of Water and Prospect streets. Weigold took it over when his father retired in 1991, and in 2014, the business moved to East Albert Street.
But farming was in his blood. Northern Farm and Forestry was launched not only for his own satisfaction, but to bring satisfaction to others, he said.
“A lot of people get enjoyment out of improving their yards,” Weigold said. “It brings them happiness. And the way the world is now, when somebody gets excited about some flowers for their planter boxes, that’s a good thing. There’s a lot of bad out there. So this keeps everybody away from watching the news too much. Some things are important to do.”
Northern Farm and Forestry is located at 59 Old Middle St., about a quarter-mile south of the rotary on Route 63 in Goshen. It is open Fridays from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit northernctfarm.com for information.