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Court stays eviction of Connecticut herbalist’s widower

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HARTFORD  — An appeals court has temporarily stopped the eviction of the widower of famed herbalist Adelma Grenier Simmons from her once-acclaimed Connecticut farm.

The state Appellate Court agreed Wednesday to hear the case, just four days before the deadline set by a lower court judge for 81-year-old Edward Cook to leave the “Caprilands” farm in Coventry and remove a horse, seven sheep and other items. The court has not set a date for arguments.

Simmons and Cook were married for about four years when she died in 1997 at age 93. She was credited with helping popularize the use of herbs in American cooking and published more than 50 books and pamphlets. Her

“Herb Gardening in Five Seasons,” first published in 1964, is still considered to be the standard reference for raising herbs.

A lawyer for Simmons’ estate is trying to evict Cook, saying he has allowed the 62-acre (25-hectare) property to fall into disrepair and has failed to adhere to the conditions in her will. Simmons envisioned her farm would be maintained after her death for the enjoyment of generations to come.

Cook, a community college science professor, has denied the estate lawyer’s allegations and believes there is a conspiracy to oust him and sell the property for a multimillion-dollar development.

“It’s good news,” Cook said Thursday of the Appellate Court’s decision. “It means that perhaps there is the possibility that Connecticut may be able to maintain a small, beautiful part of the state.”

Cook has a home in New Britain, so he is not in danger of being left homeless. He said he is at the farm daily to feed the animals.

A message seeking comment was left for George Purtill, the lawyer appointed to oversee Simmons’ estate.

Cook’s current legal battles began in 2017 after Purtill was appointed the estate lawyer. Since then, court rulings have removed Cook as executor of Simmons’ estate, terminated his lifetime tenancy rights on the farm, frozen $400,000 of his assets and ordered him evicted. Cook has appealed all those decisions.

Court records show Cook also faces more than $300,000 in contempt-of-court fines for failing to allow town officials to inspect the property. The fines are $1,000 per day and date back to December 2017.

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