Founder/Special Projects Advisor
Bennett Konesni is the co-founder of Sylvester Manor Educational Farm. In 2007 he began working with his Uncle Eben Ostby- the recent heir to Sylvester Manor- to craft a vision for the place going forward that would ensure its good stewardship for generations. Since those early days their vision to preserve, cultivate and share the place has been made real through the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, a small and reliable group of staff, and family support.
As Founder, Bennett’s main role today is one of vision-keeper: he oversees our strategic planning process and advises and leads committees and special projects throughout the organization. This more serious organizational development work is balanced by projects including the direction of our annual music series, recording oral histories of Sylvester Manor, fiddling at island contra dances, and teaching a year-long immersive worksong workshop for our farm crew.
Bennett is a 2004.5 graduate of Middlebury College and was a recipient in 2005 of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, focusing on the worldwide study of worksongs. He and his wife Edith Gawler spend part of the year at Sylvester Manor, or at their home in Belfast, Maine: Duckback Farm, where they focus on garlic production for seed and table, culinary herbs, and teas.
In addition to farming, Bennett is an internationally-touring musician, focusing on northern fiddle and dance music as well as worksongs for field and forest. Recently he has traveled to Mongolia and Ukraine as a cultural ambassador for the US State Department. He also creates vivid papercuttings which depict a culture of food that integrates heritage breeds, seeds, songs, stories and dances.