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.
Today, we actively cultivate three acres in fruits, vegetables and flowers visible in our picturesque Windmill Field on Manwaring Road. We raise a flock of Rhode Island Red chickens that we rotate through our vegetable field. The chickens eat vegetable leftovers and help lower our pest pressure in the field while providing natural fertilizer for the soil. We also raise hogs and goats in forest paddoks around the Windmill Field to help combat nonnative invasive species and improve forest health. In 2012, 83 acres of farmland were permanently protected through town and county preservation programs. In December of 2016 Sylvester Manor Educational Farm began leasing 60 of these acres to Acabonac Farms of Amagansett. Acabonac will be grazing 30+ black and red angus cattle using regenerative grazing practices to grass finish the animals on Shelter Island during the summer months. Acabonac beef products are sold at our farm stand alongside our own produce, eggs and pork.
Our farm practices are guided by a conservation plan approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and funded in part by a USDA EQIP 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.