Gov. Dannel P. Malloy toured an East Hartford hydroponic farm whose owner used state assistance to rebuild after some of his greenhouses were crushed by snow during a storm in February.
Stephen Weinstein, owner of Connecticut Hydroponic Farm, said Thursday that the weight of the snow crushed the metal frames of some of his greenhouses.
Weinstein received a $79,000 grant under the Production Loss Assistance Needed Today program. The grants were designed to help local farms that suffered damages as a result of severe weather this year.
On Thursday, he showed the governor around a warm greenhouse where rows of bright green Bibb lettuce heads floated on hydroponic tables. The farm is now producing 11,200 lettuce heads per growing cycle. After February’s storm, production had dropped to 2,800 heads, according to a press release.
“It’s been a great help,” Weinstein told Malloy. “If I didn’t have the grant, you would be looking at one table. Instead we have five houses like this. We’re now competing against companies in Quebec and getting our market share back.”
This year the state offered $5 million in grants to help storm-damaged farms. As of October, it handed out more than $4.9 million to fund 239 approved projects, according to Malloy’s office.
“We were able to get those grants out to farmers to help them—not to pay for everything—but to help them recover from floods, from terrible winter storms, and I’m proud that we’re supporting agriculture in the state of Connecticut,” Malloy told reporters.
The governor said local farms are often put at a disadvantage because federal insurance policy has focused on protecting industrial large, single-crop farms instead of local farms which are typically smaller but grow several different kinds of crops.
“The problem for farmers over the last couple years in the state of Connecticut is they’ve really taken it on the chin. They’ve had loss after loss after loss,” he said. “… So we just stepped in to help out. I think it’s the Connecticut thing to do.”