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Optimism Sprouts at Town Farm

Westport fifth-grader Charlie Colasurdo cut the ceremonial vine Thursday to help open the Wakeman Town Farm and Sustainability Center. "I'm so happy this is open," the 10-year-old Kings Highway Elementary student said. "It will serve kids like me who want to learn about farming."

The farm, located on Cross Highway, was created by Westport's home-grown non-profit Green Village Initiative. The group leased the land from the town in December as part of its mission to make Westport more sustainable.

Charlie, who spoke at a Board of Finance meeting last year in support of the project, said the town farm -- with its vegetable gardens and chicken coop -- is an important part of the community.

"This is a place where people can get fresh, local produce," Charlie said. "I'm going to tell my friends about it. I think it's important kids my age get involved with this."

Charlie has worked on farms in Easton and Vermont and is looking forward to working on the town farm in the summer.

"I love to plant harvests," Charlie said with a smile. "I can help with some planting and I can help collect eggs. Farming is hard work, but it's also a lot of fun. I really like it."

Staples High School teacher Michael Aitkenhead, who moved into the Wakeman farmhouse in August, said that although he's not an experienced farmer, living on the farm is a perfect fit for both him and his family.

"I teach AP Environmental Science, so I try to teach students the value of a more sustainable community," Aitkenhead said. "Now, I'm practicing what I preach first-hand. But beyond that, this is a true community center. Knowing that my kids will grow up in a warm, supportive setting like this is exciting."

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