Farming was the original reason for settling on Shelter Island in 1652. Re-establishing our community’s agricultural heritage in a sustainable way is a compelling priority as we launch a new era at Sylvester Manor.
Although we are not a USDA certified organic farm, each year our staff takes the Farmer’s Pledge of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, a broader commitment to environmentally sound farming, humane treatment of animals, and ethical labor and business practices. Read the entire NOFA-NY Farmer’s Pledge here.
Today, we actively cultivate four acres in fruits, vegetables and flowers without the use of chemical pesticides, visible in our bucolic Windmill Field on Manwaring Road. More farming is occurring elsewhere on the property. The historic Big Field in our northeast corner was plowed for the first time in decades last fall and planted with cover crop. This spring, we will begin restoring our eastern old fields, long out of cultivation and part of the 83 acres of land preserved forever as farmland in 2012. The Hidden Field, site of the 2011 Plant & Sing Festival, will provide good pastureland for our livestock this year and beyond. Smaller fields and wooded areas will also be cultivated as our farm planning advances.
Our farm practices are guided by a conservation plan approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and funded in part by a USDA EQUP grant. Another USDA grant is funding the development of a forestry management plan for over 150 acres of woodland. We are excited to develop agricultural practices in our woods that are productive but also mitigate invasive species that are plaguing so many protected open spaces.
For more on our farm activities, please read the Farmer’s Message.