Sylvester Manor Educational Farm is a 243-acre historic plantation and nonprofit educational farm on Shelter Island, NY, engaging all ages in farm-based programs.
Sylvester Manor Educational Farm was established in 2009 by Sylvester Manor owner Eben Fiske Ostby and his nephew, Bennett Konesni, the organization’s founder and eleventh generation of Sylvester family descendant to reside on the property. In December 2010, the IRS designated the farm a 501c3 public charity. Since then, we have been sharing Sylvester Manor, its stories and the food it produces with our neighbors and with a growing community of eaters, chefs, students, historians, artists, conservationists and farm enthusiasts. We’ve planted seeds with hundreds of children, rejuvenated the community barn dance and harvest celebrations, and created a farm that is both a significant source of local food and a social gathering place.
In 2012, the process of transferring the Sylvester Manor property from private to nonprofit ownership began. Farmland totalling over 80 acres was donated by Mr. Ostby in August and November. Facilitated by the Peconic Land Trust, the transfers culminated in Suffolk County, the Town of Shelter Island and the federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program purchasing the development rights to the donated fields, ensuring they will be forever farmland. With 22 creekfront-acres preserved through Mr. Ostby’s 2009 gift of a conservation easement to Peconic Land Trust, over 100 acres of Sylvester Manor lands have been permanently protected.
Sylvester Manor history will be in the spotlight in 2013. Over 10,000 Sylvester family records archived at the New York University will be on exhibition at the Bobst Library from April 10 to mid July. A book by archaeologist Kat Hayes will be published this year, revealing the manor’s early role in the global economy as Europeans, enslaved Africans and Manhanset Indians came together at this northern plantation. Programs in New York City and Shelter Island will celebrate these historical achievements. Also, Sylvester Manor is featured in the spring edition of Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Places.
Please explore this website and see how you can play a role in this new era at Sylvester Manor.