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Castle Hill Farm, also commonly referred to as Paproski Farm by many Newtown residents, turns 90 years old on Saturday, October 28.
The history of the longstanding farm dates back to 1927, when husband and wife Stephan and Justyna Paproski immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine.
They established their roots in the rich rural soil of Newtown, founding Castle Hill Farm at 25 Sugar Lane.
The couple worked hard as dairy farmers and passed the family business along to their children and their children’s children.
Steve Paproski, the current patriarch of the family, owns and operates Castle Hill Farm with his family: wife, Diana Paproski; youngest daughter, Shannon Paproski; oldest daughter, Stephanie (Paproski) Kearns; son-in-law Dan Kearns; and the most recent addition, granddaughter, Charlotte Jean Kearns.
Having proudly reached its fifth generation, Castle Hill Farm has come a long way, evolving with the ever-changing agricultural business.
After primarily operating as a dairy farm throughout most of its years, the Paproski family made the decision to diversify and look to other viable options to keep the farm going.
“We sold the cows to save the farm,” Mr Paproski said.
His wife agreed, adding there was just no money to be made in milk production.
They sold the cows to a young farmer in Pennsylvania about 14 years ago and have since ventured into the niche of agricultural tourism.
Castle Hill Farm started with a small pumpkin patch and corn maze, but has since expanded on its 104-acre property to host a variety of activities that are fun for the whole family.
Now with a pumpkin patch spanning four acres, families can choose from wide selection of precut pumpkins, gourds, and squash, or explore the pick-your-own area to clip the perfect pumpkin right off the vine.
Corn stalks, hay bales, and fresh food at a seasonal farm stand are also available onsite, with winter squash, tomatoes, kale, greens, and eggs currently being sold.
Children of all ages can enjoy connecting with the farm’s animals like the tiny chicks, goats, cows, and oxen.
The oxen in particular have become popular attractions at Castle Hill Farm, even making special guest appearances during the 30-minute Hay Ride Adventure through the fields.
“The 2,000-pound oxen stick their heads through the wagon and people get to feed them,” Ms Paproski said. “That’s pretty fun,” she emphasized.
For another special experience, people come to Castle Hill Farm to immerse themselves in the farm’s seven-acre corn maze.
Each year the maze has a different theme, which is displayed through its intricately designed pathways and the many signs positioned throughout the maze. The Paproski family often chooses a significant town or family milestone to help select the season’s corn maze theme.
“Last year we did a stork theme,” Ms Paproski said, that was in honor of baby Charlotte who was due that year.
It also just so happened that their stork corn maze opened the same day as the animated children’s movie Storks was released in theaters.
“The year before that was a wedding theme,” Ms Paproski said. That year has stood out as a special time for the whole family, as the theme was chosen to celebrate Stephanie’s wedding to Dan Kearns, who also comes from a local family of farmers.
On September 12, 2015, the couple not only got married at the farm, but the couple’s first look of each other on their wedding day, with Stephanie in her gown, was down by the pond where the cows graze.
For the 2017 season, Castle Hill Farm’s corn maze design incorporates its 90-year anniversary celebration.
It also follows the theme of “Thank a Farmer,” which Ms Paproski said was chosen to help educate people on the important role farmers play in communities.
In the aerial view, the pathways create images of foods commonly harvested from farms, including a tomato, pumpkin, carrot, radish, corn, and peas in a pod.
There are 30 signs scattered throughout the maze with facts all related to farming. Ten of those signs even have a word challenge where people can unscramble the words to enter to win a Christmas tree, wreath, or swag from the Paproski Tree Farm.
Starting Saturday, November 26, though, everyone will have the opportunity to get into the spirit and visit the family’s Paproski Tree Farm at 5 Hattertown Road, when it opens for the holiday season.
The 42-acre tree farm will be open seven days a week until December 23, and complements the Castle Hill Farm’s five-acre property of Christmas trees on Sugar Lane.
Both locations will have free hot apple cider and cookies every weekend.
People can select from a variety of trees like Norway spruce, Douglas fir, blue spruce, and white spruce that come precut or cut-your-own.
The farm provides the saws and tow ropes for cutting down the tree, and can also assist in netting and strapping the trees to people’s vehicles.
Having recently retired from being a teacher for 38 years, educating students is one of Diana Paproski’s biggest passions.
“I do school groups during the day, Monday through Friday,” Ms Paproski said. “They come and have a mini-lesson in the pumpkin patch about the life cycle of pumpkins, farming practices, and tools.”
Groups also get to do hands-on activities and go on the Hay Ride Adventure, feed the cows, and do part of the corn maze.
Her goal when classes take field trips to Castle Hill Farm is to not only teach children about agriculture, but ultimately help them develop a connection with nature.
She hopes the farm can inspire the future generations to preserve land and have an interest in creating legislature to protect the environment.
“If they don’t have a connection to the land, then it’s not going to happen. They need to really love this, and to appreciate animals and where your food comes from,” Ms Paproski said.
Many people have shown their love for the farm already by choosing the setting for romantic engagement proposals, family reunions, corporate luncheons, and birthday parties.
Looking To The Future
Over the past 90 years, Castle Hill Farm has overcome a number of tribulations, such as the end of its dairy farming, and weathered countless storms, including Hurricane Gloria. Throughout it all, though, the farm has continued on, thanks to the perseverance and determination of the Paproski family.
Ms Paproski said that when she looks back on her time at the farm, her best memories have always been seeing her family together making the farm into what it is today.
“I really admire Steve. He’s a very creative person. He’s full of energy and is a strong individual, and he has given those qualities to both of our daughters,” Ms Paproski said. “His goal for his whole life has been to make people happy, and that’s why he keeps this farm going.”
She added, “Every day is a good memory; every day is special here… It’s a piece of heaven.”
Visit The Farm
In honor of Castle Hill Farm’s 90th anniversary, the public is invited to join the family for an evening of celebration, on Saturday, October 28, from 6 to 9 pm, at 25 Sugar Lane.
There will be live music by local country band Union Rail, BBQ-style foods sold, and a warm bonfire to sit by.
Guests can also participate in the special Flashlight Corn Maze that night and navigate through the 7-acre maze by the glow of their flashlights.
The following day, on October 29, from 8 to 10 am, Castle Hill Farm will also be hosting its second annual Mutts, Maze, and Muffin Morning.
Freshly brewed coffee and muffins will be available to start off the morning, while canine companions can look forward to enjoying healthy dog treats and walking the maze, on leash, with their owners.
To purchase event tickets or to book a private party, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-426-5487. The farm at 25 Sugar Lane is open to the public on weekends, from 10 am to 5 pm. For more information about Castle Hill Farm, visit castlehillfarm.net and follow on Facebook at facebook.com/castlehillfarmct.