Mission & History
The Phillies Bridge Farm Project demonstrates and promotes local agriculture that is ecologically sound, community oriented, and economically viable. The Farm Project achieves these goals through farm demonstrations, educational programs, apprenticeships, research, dissemination of information, distribution of food to those in need, and the operation of a working farm.
Five miles south of New Paltz via Route 208, Phillies Bridge Farm at 45 Phillies Bridge Road is situated on 65 acres of land originally occupied by the Lenape Indians. In 1677 the land was purchased from the Lenape by local Huguenot settlers as they expanded into the country from their original village settlements in New Paltz. Purchased by Jan LeFevre, son of one of the twelve Huguenot patentees, the farm was in the LeFevre family for seven generations. Beginning to farm the land in 1742, Abraham and Andries LeFefvre used Rosendale lime to neutralize the acidic soil, planted clover to increase nitrogen levels, and employed crop rotation to increase their yields. These innovative techniques were revolutionary at the time.
The current farmhouse was constructed in 1850 on the stone foundation of the original 1745 house. The farmhouse and acreage would change hands several times before James Jr. and Mary Ottaway purchased the land in 1984. During their 12-year stay on the farm, the Ottaways were approached by Mohonk Consultations to create a demonstration farm that would focus on organic techniques and community education. With the vision and initiative of Dan Guenther, Helen Vukasin, Gayil Greene, and the Working Group on Family Farms, the farm was leased for five years from the Ottaways to create the Phillies Bridge Farm Project, which became a not-for-profit organization in 1999. The Ottaways were excited to see the success of the first not-for-profit Community Supported Agriculture farm in this area, farm-based education for schools, and a summer day camp. In 2002 the Ottaways donated the farm to the Phillies Bridge Farm Project.
Phillies Bridge Farm Project’s stewardship of the farm and its historic buildings supports its Mission to demonstrate and promote local agriculture that is ecologically sound, community oriented, and economically viable. These goals are achieved through education, internships, research, the operation of a working farm, and donation of fresh produce to those in need through Ulster County service agencies.
The volunteer fourteen-member Board of Directors works actively to seek funding and provide resources to sustain and expand the Farm Project’s education and service programs, and its efforts to engage the community in promoting local farms and sustainable agriculture. The Board manages a paid staff: Farm Manager, Education Director, as well as both a part-time Property and Office Manager.