Mission: The Suffolk County Farm and Education Center’s mission is to provide hands-on research-based learning to all residents with themes in agriculture, animal sciences, history, STEM, healthy living, and life skills, in a unique year-round learning environment and in community spaces. The Farm’s vision is to connect with our agricultural heritage and to pave the way for a bright, healthy, and sustainable future.
History: In 1870, Suffolk County bought 170 acres of land for the purpose of building an almshouse for the county’s needy and infirm. Our Historic Almshouse Hay Barn in the center of the farm was built in 1871 and is still used today for its original purpose of storing hay and straw. Initially, the residents of the almshouse provided all the necessary agricultural labor to make the farm self-sufficient.
By the 1940s, the residents of the almshouse were no longer forced to work the farm. Instead, county inmates provided most of the labor, and the farm supplied nearly all of the food meat and vegetables for many county facilities. At the start of the 1960s, hundreds of elementary school children were visiting the Farm every year and the Suffolk County Farm was becoming a vast educational resource for residents of the county.
In 1974, by request of the county, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County assumed management of the farm. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County was established in 1916 after the Smith Lever Act formalized extension in 1914. This Act established the United States Department of Agriculture's partnership with land-grant universities to apply research and provide education in agriculture. Cornell University was established in 1865 and designated as New York State’s land-grant university under the Morrill Act of 1862.
In December of 2003, over 150 acres of the Suffolk County Farm and Education Center were placed into Farmland Preservation. In January 2016, the Farm stopped its meat production activities and focused its mission on education for youth and families. In addition, we provide vocational experience for inmates and adults who are intellectually disabled. As of 2017, the Farm had a total of 272 acres - 170 which are tillable – that are used to grow animal feed and demonstration crops.
Today, the Suffolk County Farm and Education Center provides inclusive educational programs based in the 4-H Positive Youth Development framework for over 50,000 school children and families each year, to increase understanding of agriculture, nutrition, history, and environmental issues.
Last updated June 5, 2020