Beautiful would be an understatement.
Up at the tip of Candlewood Mountain Road in New Milford, Connecticut, there sits a world of peace, tranquility, the fresh scent of growing hay, and the sound of elegant horses trotting in the pastures: Candlelight Farms.
It was 1941 when Carl Dunham Senior decided to buy the 1843 farmhouse, a time when there was no electricity (hence the farm’s name). Now, 72 years later, the Candleligh Farms consists of an inn, bed and breakfast, cottage houses for receptions and events, a community garden, and numerous animals. There’s also an airport with a grass runway across from the estate.
There are 14 horses on the 600 acre property, along with two alpaca, Socrates and Orville, a donkey, Fiona, and two cats, Cowbell and Sweet Pea. Candlelight Farms holds summer horse camps where campers are taught not only how to ride but also how to properly care and maintain the horses.
“We teach the kids from the ground up,” said Nancy Saggese in an interview, the manager of Candlelight Farms Inn.
Phoenix, Saggese’s most beloved horse, came as a surprise when the farm received a horse they did not know was pregnant. Phoenix’s mother, a Quarter Horse, was bred to an outstanding Fresian, making for a unique breed.
The farm also grows hay for their own animals and for Berkshire Equestrian Center in Richmond, Massachusetts, Candlelight’s sister farm and offers an organic community garden.
There are 22 weddings planned at Candelight this year. The farm offers a few different packages for couples; some may choose horseback riding or to use the “clubhouse” for cocktails; newlyweds and their guests can stay overnight at the inn, and cottages are available for receptions.
“We’re creating something different,” said Saggese. “It’s not just all agriculture.”
Saggese works hard every day to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the farm, whether there is a wedding approaching, guests at the bed and breakfast, or an animal who needs attention.
“It’s hard to find the time to do it all perfectly,” said Saggese. She is positive, however, that the farm “is not a stressful place.”
Even though there are some hardships in being involved in such a multi-faceted business, it is consistently rewarding. Knowing that they are providing the community with fresh produce, an education on horse care and riding, a beautiful venue for any event, and a positive environment is what keeps the staff of Candlelight Farms motivated.
“People love it,” Saggese said. “It’s got good energy.”
Candlelight Farms also strives to give back to the community. The New Milford Water Witch Hose Co. #2 Volunteer Fire Department is about to hold their 150th anniversary party on the property, and Saggese’s son, Chris, is highly involved in events as well as community outreach.
Saggese says that there are endless opportunities for those who may be seeking a career in event planning or any area of agriculture. They key is to be aware of your strengths, weaknesses, and ultimate life goals.
“Be passionate about what you’re going to do,” said Saggese. “Whatever you do, do it with your heart and give it your all.”