For the third consecutive year, the Darien Land Trust will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a fundraiser in the Nielsen's Florist and Garden Shop greenhouse, complete with Irish dancing and food, on Thursday, March 14.

"If it's a beautiful night, it makes for a fun night out for people," said Shirley Nichols, the land trust's executive director.

The fundraiser is one part of the land trust's efforts to raise funds to acquire land for preservation. It is hosted by Nielsen's Florist and Garden Shop, 1405 Boston Post Road, in honor of the land trust.

Nielsen's wanted to host the event in honor of a "green" organization in town, and the land trust fit that description, Nichols said.

Since its inception 50 years ago, the land trust has acquired, whether through donations, gifts or purchase, 200 acres of land. It is one of the oldest land trusts in Connecticut.

The last few acres that pushed the total acreage to 200 came in 2012.

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Of the 200 acres of preserved land, 168 are owned by the land trust and 32 acres are protected by conservation easement. The largest land trust in Connecticut is Joshua's Land Trust, which protects more than 4,000 acres of land in northeast Connecticut.

Darien's goal is to protect and preserve town open space from being developed. It also protects and improves habitats, such as meadows, which are becoming more scarce as farms are purchased and developed, Nichols said.

"If we're creating healthy places for wildlife, we're creating healthy places for our children," Nichols said. There are classes taught on the preserved land and walking trails are available for families and residents.

Lately, efforts have been directed toward cleaning up the preserves after Superstorm Sandy by clearing and removing downed trees along trails.

As of now, the land trust consists of 23 "very active" board members and 500 members, Nichols said.

She said some of the donations have personal reasons behind them.

"For the most part, people want to see their favorite view or their favorite land preserved forever," Nichols said.

mspicer@bcnnew.com;203-972-4407;Twitter.com/Meg_DarienNews