Clover Nook Farm is located on a hilltop near Bethany’s town center. The land was originally owned by the French family in the 1600’s, whose farm was located in what was then known as Derby-Milford. The land was used as summer pasture for livestock from the French farm.
In 1765, David French married Hannah Lines of Bethany. The couple built a homestead on the French family’s Bethany land. David fought in the Revolutionary War defending Boston, surviving to return home to raise his family and work the land which is now known as Clover Nook Farm.
In 1823, David’s youngest son, Harry, built another home on the farm. This house still stands at the center of the farm and has been lived in by the many generations of the family since. Harry served as First Selectman for the town, as well as a representative in the state legislature.
After Harry’s death in 1843, his only daughter, Jane, and her husband, Justus Peck, moved back to the farm to take over the dairy and other operations on the farm. Justus became involved in many town affairs, not the least of which was the Bethany-Woodbridge Agricultural Society. For many years the group held an annual fair, the location of which was alternated between a farm in Woodbridge and Clover Nook Farm. The field where the fair was held is, to this day, still referred to as the “Fair Lot” on the farm.
Justus and Jane’s later years, their daughter Charlotte and her
husband, Samuel Woodward, a schoolteacher from Watertown, lived on
the farm and began to take over the running of the farm. Samuel
became quite involved in government affairs, serving as the town’s
First Selectman for 22 years, as well as its representative in the
state legislature. Samuel and Charlotte had three children, Florence,
Daisy, and Sherman.
After attending Connecticut Agricultural College (now known as UConn’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources) Sherman returned to the farm to take over and expand the farm operations. This included the dairy, a large poultry and egg business, peach and apple orchards, as well as vegetable production. Sherman was involved in several state and local agricultural groups, including the New Haven Agricultural Experiment Station. He and his wife, Margaret, had three children, Helen, Marion, and Sherman Jr...
father’s health began to decline, Sherman Jr., with the help of
Marion’s husband, Dudley Sandell, took over the dairy operation.
Sherman Jr. and Dudley were both active in state and local Farm
Bureau, Dudley holding office in New Haven County and a member of the
state board. Sherman Jr. continued with hay production as well as
growing feed and sweet corn. Many town residents still fondly
remember his “self-service” corn stand in front of the homestead,
where people could stop and pick up corn for dinner, leaving payment
in a cigar box. In 1972, the dairy herd was sold and Sherman Jr.
changed focus to raising dairy replacement heifers and beef cattle.
In 1988, as Sherman Jr. readied for retirement, his daughter Deborah, and her husband, Eric Demander, moved back to the farm. In 1991, Eric left his trade to take on farming full time. Continuing hay production and raising beef cattle, Eric began expanding vegetable production. Eric and Deborah soon opened a produce market at the farm where they currently sell products grown on the farm, as well as other locally grown fruits and vegetables. In 2000, Clover Nook Farm was awarded with recognition as a Connecticut Century Farm. Eric and Deborah have two sons, Carl and Lars. Carl has recently graduated from the University of Delaware’s College of Agricultural and Natural Resources with a degree in Food and Resource Economics. Lars graduated from Cornell University in 2014 with a degree in Agricultural Science and a minor in agribusiness management and later a Master's degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics in 2015. Now, Lars is back on the farm.
All of the generations of Clover Nook Farm acknowledge and thank the many, many friends, family members and neighbors whom have worked and helped on the farm. They have all contributed greatly to the farm’s ability to endure and thrive for 250 years.