Westchester Land Trust secures $2 million grant to protect Brewster’s Ryder Farm

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Ryder Farm was established in 1795 and has been continually operated by the Ryder family since then. (Image courtesy of Westchester Land Trust)

Ryder Farm, the 128-acre agricultural property on Starr Ridge Road in Brewster, will be forever free from non-farm development thanks to a $2 million grant recently secured by Westchester Land Trust, a nonprofit that works to preserve open space. Ryder Farm is the oldest working farm in Putnam county, and through WLT’s purchase of a conservation easement, the property will be reserved for continued agricultural use in perpetuity.

“Ryder Farm, established in 1795, represents an all-too-common example of the increasing pressures being faced by family farms in this region,” said Lori Ensinger, WLT president. ”By protecting this important property, we can feel confident knowing that this land will remain available for agricultural use in perpetuity. We’re grateful for the support and generosity of the Ryder family, New York State, and all who were integral in making this project happen.”

Southeast town supervisor Tony Hay expressed his support for the move, saying, “Ryder Farm has been an agricultural asset in our community for over 200 years.It is a well-known farm and is beloved by generations in our community who grew up visiting the farm, participating in the CSA, attending farm to table events, or just enjoying the scenic vista.”

Image courtesy of Westchester Land Trust

Ryder Farm, a ninth-generation family farm, is one of the few remaining large properties in Southeast, with over 3,000 feet of frontage on Peach Lake. WLT leaders noted that the land would be a significant draw for developers looking to subdivide the parcel into residential homes. Land conservation advocates also noted that restricting further development on the land will ensure drinking water protection, as the area drains into the Croton Reservoir system, which serves Westchester County and New York City.

Ryder Farm is also home to SPACE on Ryder Farm, a nonprofit artist and agricultural residency program that provides artists with the time and space to work on their craft while contributing to the sustainability of Ryder Farm. SPACE was founded in 2009 by Emily Simoness, an 8th generation member of the Ryder family.

Image courtesy of Westchester Land Trust

"Safeguarding this land and its inhabitants from development will allow Ryder Farm to continue to serve our community's agrarian needs and ecological well-being for generations to come," said Julia Gibson, a member of the Ryder family board and an environmental studies professor at Antioch University New England. "We could not be more grateful for the steadfast partnership of WLT, who have shepherded us through this process for several years."

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