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DPNC receives $250,000 grant to enhance Coogan Farm property

Mystic -- The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center formally announced Monday that its has received a $250,000 grant from The Edward and Mary Lord Foundation of Norwich that will allow it to continue the development of the Coogan Farm Nature & Heritage Center.

That project began five years ago when the nature center acquired the property.

The three-year grant, which was announced to nature center members and supporters at its annual green tie gala on Friday night, will allow the center to further its collaboration with the Denison Homestead and Mystic Seaport Museum, according to nature center Executive Director Davnet Conway Schaffer.

The grant will help fund the completion of the Greenmanville Trail that tells the story of how the Greenman brothers used the farm in the late 1800s to provide food to sustain their shipyard workers along the Mystic River. The grant will help fund interpretive signs and tours at both the Mystic Seaport Museum and Coogan Farm.

The funding will also connect the historic trails between Coogan Farm and the Denison Homestead, the two properties that make up most of the 400-acre greenway that serves as the gateway to Mystic.

The grant will also help restore the farm’s Gallup Orchard which has produced fruit since colonial times. The project will be guided by nationally recognized heirloom orchardist Eliza Greenman, who happens to be a descendant of the Greenman family and detailed the project at Friday’s gala. The project calls for improving habitat for wildlife, bringing fruit trees back into production and documenting their lineage to research the potential of a unique heritage apple.

The funding will also 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.

The 45-acre Coogan Farm is the last parcel of undeveloped farmland between downtown Mystic, Mystic Seaport Museum and Mystic Aquarium. It has been farmed since colonial times and contains important wildlife habitat and watersheds.

“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.”




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