Nature Center Receives Multi-Year Grant Towards Coogan Farm Vision

Lord Foundation of Norwich provides $250,000 over 3 years for several projects
at the Route 27 property

Mystic, CT (November 11, 2019) — The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center has received a grant from The Edward and Mary Lord Foundation of Norwich that will advance the Coogan Farm project that began five years ago when the Center acquired the property.
The three-year grant, which totals $250,000, will “allow us to further our collaboration with our neighbors the Denison Homestead and Mystic Seaport Museum,” said DPNC Executive Director Davnet Conway Schaffer.
Projects the grant will support include:
  • Complete the vision for a Greenmanville Trail to tell the story of how the Greenman brothers used the farm in the late 1800s to provide food to sustain Greenmanville shipyard workers with interpretive signs and tours at both the Mystic Seaport Museum and Coogan Farm.
  • Solidify the connection along the historic trails between the Coogan Farm and the Denison Homestead, the two properties that make up the bulk of the 400-acre greenway that serves as the gateway to Mystic.
  • Restore the Farm’s Gallup Orchard has produced fruit since colonial times, guided by nationally recognized heirloom orchardist and descendant of the Greenman family, Eliza Greenman. This restoration will improve habitat for wildlife, bring the trees back into production and include documenting their lineage to research the potential of a unique heritage apple.
  • Develop new indoor and outdoor gathering spaces in the Avery Farmhouse Welcome Center and at the Stillman foundation to meet the growing demand for educational programs that connect children to nature.
In September, the Nature Center marked the five-year anniversary of its acquisition of the Coogan Farm. The 45-acres was the last parcel of undeveloped farmland between downtown Mystic, Mystic Seaport Museum and Mystic Aquarium. The property, with sweeping views of the Mystic River, contains 370 years of American history; four early successional habitats supporting more than 10 species listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as high conservation priority, and protects two crucial watersheds.
At the time the Nature Center obtained the land, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, it identified five values that are critical to maintaining the community’s good quality of life: Conservation, Public Health, Community Spirit, Education and Sustainable Tourism.
“This grant will affect all five of Coogan Farm’s mission values,” Schaffer said. “Completing the trail system and restoring the orchard will continue our work to preserve and enhance the habitat of Coogan Farm. Being able to stabilize the Stillman Foundation and make improvements to the Avery Welcome Center means we can provide even more nature and history-related programming to the region’s children and adults. Collaborating with the Denison Homestead and Mystic Seaport Museum will help us tell the stories of how 400-plus years of nature and heritage intersect at the Nature Center’s Coogan Farm to enhance the visitor and tourist experience to all three venues.”

PHOTO CAPTION, Left to Right:
Eliza Greenman (Nationally recognized heritage orchardist and descendant of the Greenman family), Kathryn Lord (Director of The Edward and Mary Lord Foundation), Davnet Conway Schaffer (Executive Director of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center), Julie Soto (Homestead Manager of the Denison Homestead Museum) and Steve White (President of Mystic Seaport Museum).

About the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
 Since 1946, the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic has provided visitors and community the opportunity to experience nature first hand in year-round programs for all ages and interests. Visitors can explore more than 10 miles of diverse trails and walk among 17th century stonewalls, woodlands, wetlands and meadows to enjoy views across the Mystic River and beyond connecting the main facility and Coogan Farm. At the DPNC’s main facility, guests can discover nature through meeting rehabilitated wildlife and natural history exhibits. The creation of the Coogan Farm in 2013 has added additional layers of education, history, and a Giving Garden that donates thousands of pounds of bio-nutrient rich produce to the food insecure of New London County each year. DPNC’s mission is to inspire an understanding of the natural world and ourselves as part of it – past, present and future.