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Green Groups Ends Lease on Westport Town Farm

WESTPORT, Conn. – The Wakeman Town Farm and Sustainability Center will no longer be operated by the Westport-based environmental group Green Village Initiative. On Sunday, the group announced it was retuning the farm to the town.

Over the past two years, Green Village Initiative — a nonprofit focused on creating environmental change — invested more than $150,000 in donations creating the farm. The group maintained it with help from Staples High School interns and students from the Norwalk-based nonprofit Builders Beyond Borders. The group leased the property for $1 a year.

"We at GVI have decided that the town is the best steward for this project long-term while we dedicate our efforts to other community-building and environmental projects in Westport and surrounding towns," said Dan Levinson, chairman and co-founder of the organization. "This outcome is best for the community, best for the farm and best for GVI."

Michael Aitkenhead, an environmental science teacher at Staples High School, was hired to manage the farm, where he lived with his wife Carrie and their two children for the past year. They are leaving the farm, the organization said.

It's was reported that Aitkenhead's contract was not renewed after it expired in June and a new contract was drawn up for him without the knowledge of all of the organization's board members. Several board members reportedly resigned after the incident.

"The Aitkenheads were a great couple for the farm, and GVI is forever grateful for their hard work and enthusiasm and their good accomplishments at Wakeman's," board member Sal Gilbertie said in the statement. "They leave with our sincerest thanks and very best wishes for their continued success and good example to the Westport community."

Three former board members will help the town manage the farm.

What do you think about the switch? Are you concerned about the future of the farm?

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