Agricultural Impact in Preston
The primary economic activity in the town of Preston has been that of agriculture. Land forms, soil types, and climate have influenced the agriculture practiced in Preston. Farmhouses with outbuildings such as barns, silos, and sheds comprise the bulk of Preston’s standing historic and architectural resources.
Poquetanuck village played an early and significant role in the export trader providing the area with a port facility close at hand. Preston, well-suited for the grazing of livestock and with a good supply of timber, prospered from participation in this trade. Furthermore, the growth of an urban population in Norwich and New London meant a ready market for foodstuffs in the towns.
Agriculture has had a major impact on the character of the town. The arrival of new immigrant farmers from Eastern Europe and other areas, together with improved transportation and technology and the increased specialization of agriculture, all contributed to the continued viability of farming in Preston. The present appearance of Preston has been profoundly influenced by agricultural use. Patterns of field and forest, stone walls, irrigation ponds, and farm buildings all reflect past and present usage of the land.
Although farm production for market was certainly well-established by the 18th century, farms in Preston were non-specialized until well into the 19th century. Food and other goods were produced for domestic use as well as for the marketplace. Small sawmills and gristmills were also set up to process local lumber and grain. Some Preston farmer-craftsmen achieved high levels of skill in trades such as cabinetmaking, clock making, and gold or silversmithing.