New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
‘Something I’ve always been passionate about’
Orange teen Dominick Lombardi dreams of being a lawyer and a farmer, he’s already checked one off the list
ORANGE — Eighteenyear-old Dominick Lombardi just started classes at Fairfield University , but he’ll be commuting from home because he has a farm to run and Republicans to help get elected to office.
Lombardi is among the youngest farmers in Orange — he has a microfarm in the family backyard — and is the youngest member of the Republican Town Committee.
Farming and politics, which he sees as being connected, are his life.
He’s been following presidential elections closely since he was 5 years old, working on state and local campaigns for years.
As for farming, “I came out of the womb asking for a farm,” he said.
RTC Chairman Pio Imperati said Lombardi started coming to meetings at age 16 and is a “breath of fresh air” with a “very bright future.”
“He is one of the most involved and committed
members on the committee and his passion is contagious,” Imperati said.
“He’s not afraid to challenge his peers to think independently and logically about political and social issues,” Imperati said. “It’s a breath of fresh air to see someone his age so engaged and interested in current events.”
A recent graduate of Trumbull High School’s Agriscience and Biotechnology Center, where he was in the leadership position of barn manager for two school years, Lombardi has been farming his family’s backyard since the fourth grade.
“It’s just something I’ve always been passionate about,” he said.
Since farmers don’t make much money, his long-term plan is to become a lawyer and/or go into politics, but while continuing to farm.
“Politicians could take a lesson out of the farmers playbook. … It (farming) shows you the essence of life,” Lombardi said. “Roll up your sleeves and get into the business that needs to be handled.”
Lombardi thinks part of what makes First Selectman Jim Zeoli a successful leader is that he applies his farmer strengths to be responsible, accountable and to get results.
Lombardi said the farmer bug bit early and it’s in his genes, as his greatgrandmother ran a major farm in Branford.
His mother, Dana Lombardi, said her son didn’t want to go to preschool and “the only thing that got him there” was an incubator of eggs that were going to hatch baby chicks.
“I found it so fascinating,” Lombardi said.
Now, Dominick Lombardi brings an incubator and eggs to Mary L. Tracy School every year and gives the kindergartners lessons.
The official farming or homesteading part began in fourth grade when Dominick Lombardi’s father said he would buy six chickens if the young Lombardi improved his grades.
He accomplished that and it was the beginning of a 1.5-acre micro-farm in his parents’ backyard on Blackberry Hollow.
“It all started in that coop right there,” Dominick Lombardi said, pointing to the structure.
After getting his first chickens, Lombardi researched poultry diets, living conditions, feed, life and laying cycles, egg production and every other facet.
Now he has chickens raised for meat — many currently in the family freezer — chickens for egg-laying and chickens for showing at agricultural fairs and events.
His Bantam Black Wyandotte rooster took best of breed at the Northeastern Poultry Congress show in January 2020 and his Bantam White Wyandotte rooster took grand champion of the Durham Fair in 2019.
Lombardi also has a few ducks that lay eggs, because some people are allergic to chicken eggs.
The poultry roams free at times, and two geese, Romeo and Juliet, guard them from predators by attacking or making noise.
In a large garden, Lombardi grows tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce, kale and herbs such as cilantro, basil, parsley, chives and mint.
There are vibrant sunflowers along the property to attract bees to pollinate.
“Everything here is planned,” he said. “If you don’t have a plan you’re almost always doomed to fail.”
Lombardi said he loves Orange’s strong agricultural community — the way they help each other — and said he’s benefited and been inspired beyond measure from farmer/mentors, including Maryellen and Ray Holden, owners of Buttermilk Lane.
“I have known Dominick for years, and he is a wonderful young man. … He is kind and compassionate and dedicated to his family, loves his country, and is passionate about agriculture,” Maryellen Holden said. “He is eager to learn, willing to help, and has a bright future ahead of him.”
Lombardi, co-superintendent of the animal barn at the Orange Country Fair, now thoughtfully has a hen sitting on eggs timed to hatch during the two-day country fair Sept. 18-19.
As for business, he gives away his vegetables to family and friends, and sells eggs — $5 a dozen for chicken eggs, $3 a halfdozen for duck eggs — and puts whatever he makes back into the farm.
“This is my hobby; it’s a gentleman’s farm,” Lombardi said.
His goal in life, he said, “is to chase the American dream.”
Lombardi pictures himself one day giving back to society as a lawyer and/or politician — he says he’s a big fan of protecting “liberties, freedoms” — and at the same time owning a farm, hopefully bigger than the one he has now. He thinks about former President Ronald Reagan and the ranch.
“I want to have a working farm to go home to every night and wake up to in the morning,” he said. “I believe that being a farmer is not determined by the amount of land you cultivate, or animals you raise. It’s a philosophy of life.”
One of his idols, Lombardi said, is Margaret Thatcher, former British prime minister, because she had controversial beliefs “but a backbone of iron” that allowed her to speak up.
Lombardi also gets praise from state Rep. Kathy Kennedy, who represents Milford and Orange, who got a lot of help for her campaign from Lombardi, and invited him to visit the Capitol, introducing him on the floor of the chamber to members of the House of Representatives.
“He is engaging and is very knowledgeable of presidential history,” Kennedy said. “Dominic has been instrumental in getting young Republicans involved in politics in their community. He is always willing to go that extra step.”
Kennedy said Lombardi’s love of farming is evident by his “hard-work and dedication.”
“This past summer he tended to his sick calf round the clock. I am fortunate to call Dominic my friend,” Kennedy said.
Dana Lombardi said she’s from New Jersey and never dreamed her son would turn the backyard into a farm.
“He inspires me,” she said. “I always felt out of the things he could be doing, its a huge positive thing.”
Dominick Lombardi said he believes farming should “play a role in every young person’s life,” so they know meat and vegetables don’t originate in supermarkets.
He received offers of merit scholarships for college, but chose Fairfield University because he likes the Jesuit principles.
The family’s front walkway was lined with 13 American flags that would be left up for 13 days in honor of U.S. troops recently killed in an attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan.
That arrangement was all Dominick Lombardi’s idea.