Huge thanks to Shelter Islander Kristen Briner, and the rest of her staff at Madison|Mott (especially Kristyn Shayon Miller, the project manager), for working with us to develop our new website. Their talent, keen eye, creativity, expertise, and generosity have astounded us here at Sylvester Manor, and we are sincerely grateful for the opportunity to work with them.
Hello supporters of Sylvester Manor,
Sylvester Manor Educational Farm and the Peconic Land Trust announce the preservation of over 57 acres of agricultural land through a sale of development rights to Suffolk County and the Town of Shelter Island. This follows the August sale of development rights on 26 adjacent acres at Sylvester Manor, bringing the total of permanently protected farmland to more than 83 acres. When combined with 22 acres of waterfront habitat and woodland preserved through a conservation easement donated to the Peconic Land Trust in 2009, over 105 acres of Sylvester Manor property has been protected.
“Protecting a second parcel of the historic Sylvester Manor property is a remarkable achievement, both for the local and county governments and for the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm. We now have a significant landholding preserved for future generations, and with it a crucial foundation for the Educational Farm and its mission. So many people contributed to making this effort a success, and I am both indebted to them and proud of the community that supported it,” said Eben Fiske Ostby, 10th-generation proprietor of Sylvester Manor.
“We are truly thankful for the generosity of Eben Ostby and the commitment of the Town and County in supporting a sustainable future for Sylvester Manor,” said Executive Director Cara Loriz. “With the help of Peconic Land Trust and our many supporters, we can now celebrate the realization of our initial preservation goals for this remarkable property.”
As with the August transaction, preceding the development rights purchase, Mr. Ostby donated the 57 acres to the non-profit organization, Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, which will use the proceeds from the development rights sale to grow the Fund dedicated to sustaining the non-profit into the future.
Sylvester Manor Educational Farm now operates on the 243-acre property, working to cultivate, preserve and explore the Manor’s lands, buildings and stories, inviting new thought about the history and culture of food, both on Shelter Island and across the country.
The newly designated preserved farmland extends south along Manhanset Road from the historic farm field along the northern boundary of Sylvester Manor that was preserved in August. The new acreage, gradually being cleared of succession old field vegetation, supported cover crop and livestock this past season. The Farm’s plans for the protected acreage include expanding livestock and row crop production, establishing orchards and making acreage available to lease farmers and community gardeners.
“I’m so proud and excited for this preservation effort; it comes sooner than we thought, and it comes at a time when we’ve assembled a team that I completely trust to do the right thing for Sylvester Manor, its lands, stories and communities. I’m grateful for everyone who has put their shoulder behind this process and for everyone’s patience as we’ve put the puzzle pieces together. It’s been an honor to play the role that I have. I look forward to helping this project grow and mature,” said Bennett Konesni, nephew of Eben Fiske Ostby and founder of Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.
Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Dougherty stated, “On behalf of all Shelter Islanders, I want to thank our Suffolk County partners, the Sylvester Manor folks, the Peconic Land Trust and all players who made this possible.”
“Eben and his nephew Bennett’s vision for Sylvester Manor is extraordinary, a true gift to the Shelter Island community that benefits the entire East End. The conserved acreage will ensure that Shelter Island’s agrarian history is protected and celebrated for generations to come,” said John v.H. Halsey, President, Peconic Land Trust. “This is the third successful conservation transaction that we have helped the family complete. We look forward to continuing our working relationship with Eben, Bennett, and the entire team at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.”
Background on the transaction:
Suffolk County and the Town of Shelter Island purchased the development rights to the 57.1744-acre field, located along the eastern boundary of the 243-acre Sylvester Manor on Manhasset Road, for a total price of $4,688,300.50 ($82,000 per acre). The purchase was funded with dedicated land protection funds: 70 percent by the County from its ¼% Bonded Drinking Water Protection Farmland Preservation Program and 30% by the Town from its Community Preservation Fund, a 2% tax on real estate transactions.
Background on Sylvester Manor Educational Farm
Mr. Ostby and his nephew, Sylvester Manor Educational Farm founder Bennett Konesni, have been working with the Peconic Land Trust since 2008 to plan and implement the conservation of the historic 243-acre Sylvester Manor property. Mr. Ostby donated a perpetual easement on 22 acres along Gardiners Creek to Peconic Land Trust in December 2009. This past August, Mr. Ostby donated 26 acres of farmland to the Educational Farm, allowing the nonprofit to sell the associated development rights to the County and Town, with additional funding from the federal Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program. The development rights sale just completed brings the total of permanently protected land at the Manor to more than 105 acres.
Planning is underway to transfer the majority of the property from Mr. Ostby to Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, as the not-for-profit organization’s capacity to care for this Shelter Island treasure grows.
The 57-plus acres are being brought back into productivity with extensive clearing and cover cropping. In 2012 these acres hosted a herd of heirloom pigs that traveled across Long Island Sound to a small butcher operation in Rhode Island, producing pork cuts for sale at the Sylvester Manor farm stand on Manwaring Road. Near the livestock area, invasive vines and deadwood were cleared — preparations for planting an orchard in a field currently hosting several honey bee hives.
During World War II, corn, cabbage and potatoes were grown on the land. With adjacent fields also cultivated, long-time Islanders say you could see clear to Coecles Harbor from the manor farmland. This historical farming area was served by an old community irrigation system; a relay station for this system can be found on the preserved land.
Sylvester Manor was established in 1652 on fertile land at the head of a protected harbor on Shelter Island, and it is one of the few places in America to have been in the hands of the same family since its colonial origins. Before that time, Native Americans of the Manhanset Tribe used the land for fishing, hunting and small-scale crop production. Sylvester Manor served as a residence for one of America’s first food industrialists (and an inventor of baking powder), Eben Norton Horsford, as well as functioning as a farm for the past two centuries, serving regional markets.
Sylvester Manor’s role as an East End history and education center is well founded. In addition to being a working farm, the property is an important early American archaeological site complemented by over 10,000 primary documents — family papers, books and letters now archived at New York University’s Fales Library. The University of Massachusetts in Boston has held an archaeological field school on the property for much of the last decade and continues to research the artifacts found. Next April, two books exploring the Manor’s early history will be published, their launch to coincide with the opening of an exhibition of the manor records at NYU, entitled “Sylvester Manor: Food and Power on a Northern Plantation.”
Sylvester Manor Educational Farm is working to re-establish agriculture on Shelter Island in a sustainable way. Long a part of the Island’s heritage, active farming died out on Shelter Island in the 1980s, a demise attributed to residential development and an overpopulation of deer. The preservation of Manor land under the county’s farmland program will guarantee that all activities on the preserved land are agricultural in nature.
Manor farm operations for the 2012 season include over 5 acres in pesticide-free vegetable and fruit production, winter greens operations in a new high tunnel greenhouse, a 50-hen egg production program, and pilot goat and pig programs. Thousands of area residents of all ages participated in arts and education programs at the Manor in 2012 — programs that ranged from Shakespeare in the Field to a gourd banjo-making workshop to the 4th annual Plant & Sing food and music festival over Columbus Day weekend. Registration will open soon for the 2013 Young Farmers outdoor education program, in which East End children grow and harvest their own food and learn about sustainable agriculture.
About Peconic Land Trust
The Peconic Land Trust was established in 1983 to conserve Long Island’s working farms and natural lands. With the help of many, the nonprofit Trust has worked in concert with landowners, local government, partner organizations, and communities to conserve over 10,000 acres of land on Long Island.
On Shelter Island, the Peconic Land Trust has worked with the Town, County and local landowners on 28 projects, beginning with the donation of the Reel Point Preserve in 1995 by Herb and Marsha Stern – eight acres of uplands, wetlands and farmland. In addition to today’s announcement, the Trust assisted the family on the sale of development rights to the Town and County on 26 acres of farmland in August of this year, and had received a gift of a conservation easement from Eben Fiske Ostby protecting 22 acres of waterfront and upland woods at Sylvester Manor in 2009.
The Trust has Stewardship Centers in Southold, Cutchogue, Bridgehampton and Amagansett and its Main Office is in Southampton. A common misperception is that the Peconic Land Trust is the recipient of the monies raised through the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund (also referred to as the 2% land transfer tax or the Peconic Land Tax). This is NOT the case. The CPF tax is collected by Suffolk County and then redistributed to the five East End towns, the distribution of which is based on the location of the property from which the tax is acquired. For more information about the Peconic Land Trust visit www.PeconicLandTrust.org or call 631.283.3195.
We were just sent a link to embed this video, so we thought we’d share it again with you all!
1) Good luck making it home without completely snacking away your first (modest) share of cherry tomatoes! Every ripe tomato is going to you guys, so enjoy.
2) New parking entrance is complete. Please take note as you approach the farm, your new entrance is the one *closest to the Whale’s Tail* The exit is the other gate. Two gates! We won’t let this new sophistication get to our heads, promise.
3) Basil will be Pick Your Own- please be extra careful to pay attention to the harvest system… ie. let the plant stay in the ground and pick the leaves! Don’t pick by the roots or else it’s over for Basil for the year.
4) Zucchini bread is back! Get it at the farmstand before it sells out…
5) Speaking of which, the farmstand is coming together, feel free to buy extra bread, flowers, etc. after you’ve chosen your share. FYI the food is the same quality the CSA gets, we just clean and organize it more, so it generally looks “nicer.” But it’s the same stuff, promise, just with a little pomp and circumstance.
6) Sometimes we only have a few pints of something available, not enough for a CSA distribution. This typically happens when a crop is just coming into season or is just going out. This week that is string beans. If you come early you just might get some at the farmstand.
7) Believe it or not, we’ve begun ploughing for fall plantings. Yesterday Mike Loriz and I tilled and disked about 16 beds, and the contrast of the green plants and brown soil is beautiful to see. The soil is in pretty good shape, so carrots and fall greens will be going into the ground soon. Hopefully they’ll be ready for the last month or so of the CSA…
See you Saturday!
Bennett & The Crew
ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO | Summer staff working at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm this spring.
The town, county and Oben Ostby, owner of Sylvester Manor, are set to close on the first of two pending development rights sales of agricultural land at the manor, the proceeds from which have been called crucial to the economic health of the Sylvester Manor Education Farm.
The closing will be on Wednesday, August 8 at the county treasurer’s office, Supervisor Jim Dougherty announced Monday.
Supervisor Dougherty first reported at last Friday’s Town Board meeting that he expected a closing — once predicted for early 2012 but long delayed by technical issues — sometime before August 11.
The town and county are sharing the $2.389 million cost of the purchase of the development rights for slightly more than 24 acres of the manor property. The town’s share of the purchase, $456,843, will be paid through revenues from the town’s 2-percent Community Preservation Fund tax on real estate transactions. That fund currently has a balance of about $1.1 million, Mr. Dougherty reported on Friday.
The town’s share would have been more than $700,000 but a grant from the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service totaling more than $866,000 reduced the bill for both parties to the purchase.
For more details, see the July 26, 2012 edition of the Shelter Island Reporter.
We had a wonderful second CSA distribution this Saturday. Thanks to all who came out to spend the morning with us :) And thank you Jennifer Ruys for taking such excellent photos!
A great thank you to Ray Smith, of Ray Smith and Associates, who has donated this Massey Ferguson front end bucket loader to Sylvester Manor. It will be invaluable for all the jobs needing to get done on our property. Ray has lovingly maintained the trees on Sylvester Manor for many years. He was first hired by Ali FisKe, as he just started his career. In the photo, he is with Bobby Walden, assistant groundskeeper.
Thank you Ray!
Summer Youth Programs
Early-Bird Registration has Begun!
Get $50 off normal registration fees now until May 1st!
But hurry, spaces are limited!
We have three different programs this summer – two brand new additions – for kids ages 3 -12! For more information and to download a mail-in registration form visit the youth programs page.
Friends, neighbors, and supporters, we invite you out to the farmstand once more for an egg sale. Eggs are available Friday, 2/10, and Saturday, 2/11, from 10 am to 5 pm for $5/dozen and $3/half dozen. They’re hot-out-the-hens and ready to be fried, poached, scrambled, or whisked into whatever concoction you have in mind. The Carolines thank you kindly.
Need an egg? Need a dozen? Stop by the farmstand today, Friday, February 3, or tomorrow, Saturday, February 4, and pick up some farm fresh, delicious, and nutritious eggs! Our hens thank you, and so do the farmers.
Seasons greetings to all of our friends and supporters!
Here are three ways you can make Sylvester Manor a joyful part of your holiday season:
1. Share holiday cheer at Tea & Tree
When: Saturday, December 17, 2 to 4 pm
Where: The Manor House, 80 North Ferry Road
Why: This celebration, a revival of the popular Fiske family event, is the Sylvester Manor staff’s way of saying “Thank You” to the members of our new non-profit and to our volunteers. Not a member yet? Not a problem — sign up for a 2012 membership at Tea & Tree (minimum donation $50) or donate online now (Select “Donate” above).
2. Help us meet our matching grant challenge
Sylvester Manor owner Eben Fiske Ostby will match all donations received in 2011 up to $250,000 and the same for the next three years for a total $1 million match. We’ve raised over $185,000 in gifts and grants thus far — you can help us make the most of this match and raise an additional $65,000 before the end of 2011.
Please consider a tax-deductible, year-end gift to Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, PO Box 2029, Shelter Island, NY 11964, or select “Donate” above. Give $1,000 or more in the name of friends or family and their names will go on our role of Founding Families of Sylvester Manor — a once-in-a-lifetime gift!
3. Give tickets to Blue Highway
Award-winning bluegrass band “Blue Highway” will perform on Shelter Island on Saturday, January 14 at 7:30 pm. Hurricane Irene blew away the original concert date at Sylvester Manor last summer, but the show will go on, this time at the Shelter Island School auditorium.
Proceeds from the concert will benefit Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.
Blue Highway tickets make great stocking stuffers!
Tickets are $20 and $30. VIP seats are moving fast so click below now.
Thanks again and Happy New Year from everyone at Sylvester Manor.