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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, internships, research, dissemination of information, distribution of food to those in need, and the operation of a working farm.
The land now managed by Phillies Bridge Farm Project was originally occupied by the Lenape (len-AH-pay) Indians. In 1677, the land was purchased from the Lenape by local Huguenot settlers as they expanded outward from their original village settlements. In 1742, a 1,000-acre parcel was purchased by Jan LeFevre, son of Simon LeFevre, one of the twelve original New Paltz Huguenot patentees. Jan deeded the land to his sons, Abraham and Andries, who built two stone houses in the area known as Kettleborough.
After clearing the land, the LeFevres set out to improve the nature of their gravelly soil. The sons 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 farm was in the LeFevre family for seven generations. The current farmhouse was constructed in 1850 and utilized stones from the earlier houses for the foundation. The house 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, and Gayil Greene, 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 community project and in 2002 generously donated the land to the Phillies Bridge Farm Project, which has continued to expand its programs and its efforts to engage the community in sustainable agriculture ever since.
Today the Phillies Bridge Farm Project upholds the land’s legacy. It is operated by a volunteer Board of Directors, a farmer, and an education director. The organization consists of people who have a sense of responsible stewardship of the farm, its legacy and its historic buildings, and dedication to sustainable agriculture, education about the sources of healthy food, and of the conservation of the surrounding environment.