Just three months after funding from the National Resources Conservation Service ensured the preservation of 26.25 acres of Shelter Island’s Sylvester Manor Educational Farm in August, the Peconic Land Trust announced on Friday that another 57 acres of agricultural land has been preserved on Sylvester Manor through a sale of development rights to Suffolk County and the Town of Shelter Island.
This brings the total of permanently protected farmland to more than 83 acres, and a total of 105 protected acres when combined with 22 acres of waterfront habitat and upland subject to a conservation easement donated by the owner, Eben Fiske Ostby, in 2009 to the Peconic Land Trust.
“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," Ostby said in a statement. “We now have a significant landholding preserved for future generations.”
As with the August transaction, preceding the development rights purchase, 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, which is 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,” said Bennett Konesni, nephew of Ostby and founder of Sylvester Manor Educational Farm. “It comes sooner than we thought and 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.”