Ryder Farm Changes Management: SPACE assumes operations as Betsey Ryder retires
SPACE on Ryder Farm interns with organic produce and plants to be sold starting in May
SPACE on Ryder Farm, the residency program for artists and activists, has assumed management of the organic farming operations at Ryder Farm, succeeding Betsey Ryder of Ryder Farm Cottage Industries, who retired at the end of the 2018 growing season after 40 years of farming. As part of the management shift, SPACE has launched a sliding-scale CSA (community supported agriculture) program.
Located on Starr Ridge Road in Brewster, Ryder Farm is one of the oldest family farms in the Northeast, first established by Eleazer Ryder in 1795. It was an early adopter in the organic movement. Betsey Ryder has been growing organic vegetables, herbs and flowers on the farm since 1978, following in the footsteps of her cousin Hall Gibson and five generations of Ryders before her. Betsey maintained the farm’s presence at the local Brewster market, as well as a robust CSA program, and worked to keep the farm’s 127 acres from being sold for development.
Emily Simoness, a seventh-generation Ryder, co-founded SPACE in 2011 along with Susan Goodwillie. They created the nonprofit with the two-fold mission of providing time and space for artists and innovators to develop new work, while contributing to the sustainability and resourceful preservation of Ryder Farm.
Located on the grounds of the 224-year-old family homestead, SPACE creates an environment singular in its ability to invigorate artists and innovators and their work, says Simoness, its executive director. Each year, SPACE welcomes nearly 150 artists and activists to the farm for fully subsidized residencies of one to five weeks.
“Since SPACE’s founding, art and agriculture have been in concert on Ryder Farm,” she says. “At a time when family farms are being lost across the country due to economic pressures and the lack of succession plans, SPACE is deeply committed to ensuring Ryder Farm is still farming in another 224 years.”
“Emily arrived to the farm and saw the inspiration inherent in this land and created a vehicle for others to engage in the nurturing and cultivation of their craft,” says Betsey Ryder. “I am lifted by the enthusiasm of SPACE for taking on our agricultural legacy. I am confident that SPACE will grow upon the agricultural base and carry Ryder Farm to new heights.”
Farmers Jason McCartney and Doug DeCandia will lead farm operations at SPACE. As director of farming, McCartney brings nearly a decade of experience from across the East Coast, including Brookwood Community Farm in Massachusetts and Matunuck Farm in Rhode Island. Farm Manager DeCandia has worked extensively with the Food Bank for Westchester (now known as Feeding Westchester) as both a farmer and a food justice activist. He also previously worked at Ryder Farm in 2010, and says he’s happy to be returning now to work with SPACE.
In addition to stocking SPACE’s residency kitchen, produce from Ryder Farm will be available via sliding-scale CSA memberships. Weekly shares of vegetables and herbs will be available for pickup at the farm and in New York City from June to October. SPACE also will sell produce weekly at Ryder Farm’s roadside stand on Starr Ridge Road in Brewster.