Ciesluk Farm Conserved

The Ciesluk Farm, a 166-acre gem nestled along the Deerfield River, is one of a shrinking number of multigenerational farms in New England.

Frank E. Ciesluk, who purchased nearly 200 acres of fertile farmland along the Deerfield River in the early 20th century, laid the foundation for this enduring legacy. His grandchildren, Jennifer Antonellis and Michael Antonellis, continue to honor their family’s farming heritage.

Michael Antonellis purchased the farm in 2018. Together with his sister Jennifer, who manages the popular family farmstand across the road from Historic Deerfield, he has cultivated a thriving agricultural enterprise.

This fertile land, blessed with rich topsoil, produces and sells corn, vegetables, and pumpkins for retail as well as for wholesale to local grocery chains. Michael also manages additional Deerfield farmland, some of it also recently conserved by FLT, for hay sales nationwide.

The meadowlands of Deerfield, shaped by the river’s energy, harbor over a mile of waterfront habitat, including oxbows and marshes—a biodiversity hotspot. Recognizing its unique value, Michael Antonellis chose to conserve his farm.

“It was wonderful to work with the next generation of farmers in the valley” says Alain Peteroy, Director of Land Conservation at Franklin Land Trust. “I look forward to buying some of the Antonellis farm’s sweet corn!”

The Franklin Land Trust (FLT), backed by generous donors and a grant from an anonymous foundation, stepped in to secure the future of the farm. Michael agreed to sell a conservation restriction to FLT, ensuring that this special place remains protected for generations to come. The robust agricultural language within the restriction ensures a commitment to preserving both the land’s productivity and its ecological richness.

These 166 acres represent 23 individual parcels of land split into narrow agricultural strips, a common practice of land grants in the 1600’s

Michael aptly describes this land as “not like anywhere else I’ve farmed.” This conservation restriction will ensure that the landscape always remains agriculturally viable and available for farming.