Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, Shelter Island

4.1
#76 of 124 in Things to do in Hamptons
Farm · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
Sylvester Manor is a 243-acre educational farm on Shelter Island, NY. Started in 1652, the Manor has been a native hunting grounds, a triangle-trade plantation, an enlightenment farm providing food for New York, Hartford and Providence, and home to the father of modern food chemistry, Eben Norton Horsford. Today we grow vegetables for our 60-member CSA, and host workshops on food, culture and place.

HISTORY

Sylvester Manor is a former provisioning plantation, set up in 1652 on fertile soil at the head of a protected harbor on Shelter Island, New York. Originally owned by an English/Dutch sugar consortium to supply the triangle trade, and operated by enslaved Africans and indentured or paid Native American and European laborers, it has in the last two centuries also been a enlightenment-era farm serving regional markets and the country estate of one of America’s first food industrialists, Eben Norton Horsford, inventor of baking powder and the father of modern food chemistry.

The Manor is notable as it is one of America’s few places that has been in the hands of the same family since it was first developed. Bennett Konesni, executive director, represents the fifteenth generation in a long line of family that have stewarded the property. Once comprising all of Shelter Island, today the Manor encompasses 243 acres of fields, forests, gardens and estuaries. In addition to the 1735 Manor House, it also includes an 1810 wind-powered gristmill made almost entirely from local trees.

An important early-American archaeological site, the Manor is complimented by over 10,000 primary documents, one of the few archives of its kind, including family papers, books and letters. Describing changes of culture and land through nearly 400 years of American life, this remarkable collection was recently restored and opened to academics by NYU. Additionally, UMass Boston held an archaeological field school on the property from 1999-2005 exploring the three cultures on the plantation in the 1600s, and Mac Griswold’s new book exploring the Manor’s early history will be published next year by Houghton Mifflin.

As it has for hundreds of years, food continues to play a pivotal role in life at the Manor. Today we build on this extraordinary history by encouraging joyful, fair, and meaningful connections between people and place. This means learning and teaching all people the arts of the field, kitchen and table. It is about learning to sing in the fields, to build a traditional timberframe farmstand, to tell great stories around the table, and how to dance again in our barns. It is about farmers, chefs and eaters learning how to bring joy to their fields, kitchens and tables, and understanding that this joy has not always been a part of our landscape. It is about creating a cultural landscape that is joyful, meaningful and fair.
To visit Sylvester Manor Educational Farm on your holiday in Shelter Island, and find out what else Shelter Island has to offer, use our Shelter Island.
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Sylvester Manor Educational Farm reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
25 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • We enjoyed The Farmstand shop where we picked up fresh produce and baked goods. Also loved visiting the chickens, sheet and the pigs! Fun farm atmosphere.  more »
  • We were on Shelter Island for a weekend wedding and the family went out for a ride to entertain the grandkids, 6 and 4. We walked the farm and saw rows and rows of zinnias. The chickens were in a.....  more »
Google
  • Great for Summer fresh vegetables, you can pick your own, and lovely flowers too
  • It was an indescribable feeling knowing that I was standing on the grounds of a Slave Plantation. I would like to believe that the slaves were treated in a humane manner since the vibes I felt were of peace and serenity. This experience will remain with me for a lifetime. Thanks to our guide for the short history lesson. Will definitely be visiting again.

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