NEW MILFORD -- When farmland preservation activist Vivian Harris died in 2008, her family requested donations be sent to New Milford's Farmland Preservation in lieu of flowers.

The $5,700 received is now being used to establish a scholarship for New Milford students going into secondary education in the agriculture field. The Harris Family Agricultural Scholarship will be managed through a community fund.

Dan Raidyoff, treasurer of the Farmland Preservation Committee, said the scholarship will provide $1,000 annually.

"We have an option of adding more money to keep the scholarship going after the initial $5,700 is expended," he said. "We'll need to put $25,000 more into the account."

The Connecticut Community Foundation will oversee the scholarship. Raidyoff said there will be a committee of five members, two of whom would be chosen by the Farmland Preservation Committee.

Julie Loughran, director of development and communication with the Connecticut Community Foundation, said the nonprofit will raise money for the fund that will provide the scholarships. The foundation has been in existence for 94 years and has a $94 million endowment.

It manages about 120 scholarship funds.

"This a great way to honor a leader in the farm community in New Milford," Loughran said.

The first $1,000 scholarship will be awarded next year through the Harris Family Agricultural Scholarship Fund.

"The whole family is very pleased that this is happening," said Susan Harris Bailey, Vivian Harris' daughter. "Mom was a big supporter of agriculture, of raising awareness about the value of farms. She had great ideas. I think she and my dad would be very pleased."

Harris became involved in farming politics in the 1960s, working on legislation that became the bedrock of the state's farm policy. That legislation allows farmland, wood lots and open space to be taxed at a lower rate than residential property.

Harris served on the state Farm Bureau and the Litchfield County Farm Bureau. She was a New Milford selectman, Republican Town Committee chairwoman and member and chairwoman of the town's Planning Commission.; 203-731-3352