SPACE on Ryder Farm Assumes Organic Farming Operations


Betsey Ryder Retires After 40 Years of Stewardship

Jason McCartney and Doug DeCandia Join SPACE as Inaugural Farmers

Community Supported Art + Agriculture Membership will provide produce and art for NYC and Westchester/Putnam County Families

SPACE on Ryder Farm, the acclaimed residency program for artists and activists, announced that it has begun managing the organic farming operations at Ryder Farm as of 2019, and launched its inaugural sliding scale CSA (community supported agriculture) membership. SPACE is succeeding Betsey Ryder of Ryder Farm Cottage Industries, who retired at the end of the 2018 growing season after 40 years of farming.

Located on Starr Ridge Road in Brewster, New York, Ryder Farm is one of the oldest family farms in the Northeast, first established by Eleazer Ryder in 1795. Ryder Farm was an early adopter in the organic movement, and one of the founding farms to participate in the Union Square Greenmarket. Betsey Ryder has been growing organic vegetables, herbs and flowers on Ryder Farm since 1978, following in the footsteps of her cousin Hall Gibson and five generations of Ryders before her. Betsey maintained Ryder Farm’s presence at the Greenmarket and local Brewster markets as well as a robust community-supported agriculture program, and worked diligently to keep the farm’s 127 acres from being sold for development.

Emily Simoness, a 7th generation Ryder, became involved with Ryder Farm upon recognizing that her own artistic community could both benefit from and reinvigorate the aging family farm. In 2011, she co-founded SPACE 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.

SPACE welcomes nearly 150 residents to Ryder Farm each year for fully-subsidized residencies of one to five weeks, in programs supporting playwrights, filmmakers, activists and working artists-parents, among others. Over the past nine years, SPACE has facilitated the restoration and management of many of the farm’s historic buildings, including the 1795 farmhouse from which the organization operates. Produce grown on Ryder Farm is incorporated into the three farm-fresh, communal meals shared by residents each day, and SPACE hosts farm-to-table dinners and performance events throughout the season for the public.

“Since SPACE’s founding, art and agriculture have been in concert on Ryder Farm,” said Simoness, Executive Director of SPACE. “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. In taking on the agricultural operation, we see enormous opportunity for increased reciprocity among the creative processes of our artist and activist residents, the meal planning and preparation of our resident chefs and the sweat, ingenuity and skills of our farmers and their team.”

“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,” said 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.”

SPACE honored Betsey Ryder at its annual Farm in the City Gala on November 12th, 2018, and released a video commemorating Ryder’s 40 years of stewardship of Ryder Farm, which can be viewed at bit.ly/SPACE-BetseyRyder.

Farmers Jason McCartney and Doug DeCandia will lead the farm operations at SPACE. As Director of Farming, McCartney brings nearly a decade of experience from farms 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 food access and food justice activist. He also previously worked at Ryder Farm in 2010, and is 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 a sliding scale CSA (community supported agriculture) memberships launching today, providing weekly installments of vegetables and herbs for pickup at Ryder Farm and in NYC from June to October. Taking advantage of SPACE’s network of over 1,300 resident alumni, CSA members can also expect to find samplings of the artistic projects cultivated at Ryder Farm among their weekly allotment of kale and tomatoes. Aligned with SPACE’s commitment to equity and inclusion, CSA shares are offered on a sliding scale. To sign up for a 2019 CSA membership, visit spaceonryderfarm.org/farm (en Español: spaceonryderfarm.org/granja).

SPACE also plans to sell produce weekly at a to-be-announced NYC farmers’ market location and at Ryder Farm’s roadside stand on Starr Ridge Road in Brewster.


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