Dining at Ryder Farm in Brewster

Go for Vegetables, for the Flowers, for an Artistic Retreat, for the Past

The Ryder family has been farming in Brewster, N.Y. since 1795. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

The Ryder family has been farming in Brewster, N.Y. since 1795. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Use any excuse you can to pay a visit to Ryder Farm in Brewster, N.Y. and imagine, for a few moments, for an evening, for a days-long visit if you happen to be a very fortunate artist, what it might have been like to farm this land back in 1795, just as the Ryder family has been doing since that year. If you are lucky enough to be at Ryder Farm for a seasonal supper or similar event (you will need to purchase tickets in advance) and are offered a tour, take in the main house with its low ceilings and wide floorboards and furniture that looks like it’s been there since, well, colonial times. Find the barn, which now serves as a theater space of sorts, but remember to look up, where you will find an old sleigh. Enjoy the fields of flowers and vegetables and tractors. Should you become an artist in residence, if you take a long walk, you might make your way to Peach Lake or find a horse in a field or see rows of sunflowers.

Ryder Farm is a working farm, with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares in the right season for people who want their vegetables local and fresh. It is also a space for artists, who visit for periods of time through the SPACE on Ryder Farm residency program. There is a farm stand, open to the public, where produce and flowers may be bought using the honor system if no one ‘official’ happens to be manning the operation. More recently, there are occasional suppers and other events.

An outdoor supper at Ryder Farm in Brewster, N.Y. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

An outdoor supper at Ryder Farm in Brewster, N.Y. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

We are fortunate to attend one when a number of Ryder cousins are there. The descendants of the farm’s founders are still the owners, and they have a charming tendency to specify which line they’ve descended from—meaning, from which of the founders’ children—and which generation of cousins they’re in. We hear the lore of the farm, about how different cousins at different times came back to save it, about how the family has long resisted the temptation of developers seeking to install new neighborhoods. Let’s hope the family persists.

Place setting for a seasonal supper at Ryder Farm in Brewster, N.Y. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Place setting for a seasonal supper at Ryder Farm in Brewster, N.Y. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Go for a supper or for a performance, or hold an event there yourself. It’s a magical place, with lights and stages and also some big, fat cats patrolling for chipmunks. Ducks, and fresh-grown flowers, and history, and family, and writers, and musicians, and actors add to the space.

Artists summon their creativity, creatives get back to nature, and visitors learn a bit of history at Ryder Farm in Brewster, N.Y. Here, a peak in the windows of The Sycamores, a centuries-old house on the property. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Artists summon their creativity, creatives get back to nature, and visitors learn a bit of history at Ryder Farm in Brewster, N.Y. Here, a peak in the windows of The Sycamores, a centuries-old house on the property. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Just over the North Salem/Westchester County border, the farm is located in Brewster in Putnam County. If you want to do more than make some purchases from the farm stand, you’ll need to plan ahead. Tickets for various events and information about other sorts of visits are accessible on the farm’s website.

Ryder Farm, 404 Starr Ridge Road, Brewster, N.Y. 10509

—Lori Tripoli

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