07/23/17 9:31am
Andrew Porzio started growing food in his backyard when he was a kid. He’s scaled up a bit.

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO Andrew Porzio started growing food in his backyard when he was a kid. He’s scaled up a bit.

When Andrew Porzio came to Sylvester Manor Educational Farm in the spring of 2016 as a farm apprentice, he’d already been growing food for a decade.

At 13, he walked into the backyard of his family’s home near Buffalo, picked a spot and started fencing it in with sticks. He was undeterred when his dad said his garden site was, “a little shady.” (more…)

06/16/17 9:35am
Sylvester Manor

A herd of Devon cattle explore a newly opened section of pastureland at Sylvester Manor. (Credit: Annette Hinkle)

Farming has been a way of life on the East End for more than three centuries. Although it was once common to see cows grazing in local fields, given sky-high land values and the amount of acreage required to raise them, it’s been decades since cattle have been a regular feature of the East End landscape.

But the cows have come home to Shelter Island. Since mid-May, 33 of them have been happily munching away in the pasturelands at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm. Another 10 or so are set to join them from upstate New York in the weeks ahead. (more…)

06/07/17 6:01am

The Horsford Girls ca. 1872. Clockwise from top left: Mary, Kate, Gertrude, Cornelia, Lilian Horsford, taken in Cambridge Mass. Courtesy: New York University Files Library.

The voices of women are generally those most easily lost to history. Deeds, lawsuits and business interests are the documents of men and these are what often can be found in archives when one is doing historical research.

But this weekend, Sylvester Manor Educational Farm opens an intriguing exhibition that focuses on the particularly strong matriarchal lineage that dominated the property for centuries.  (more…)

05/13/17 11:26am


At the far northwestern edge of France, as far as one can go and still technically be in continental Europe, there lies a stretch of land so removed both physically and culturally from its parent country that even its name, Brittany, evokes a land that is not quite French.

Yet it is not quite British either.

What it is, however, is the source of traditional French Canadian music which we hear on this side of the Atlantic today — albeit with some variations that only time and distance will provide.  (more…)

02/25/17 11:26am
Donnamarie Barnes at Sylvester Manor. (Credit: Charity Robey)

Donnamarie Barnes at Sylvester Manor. (Credit: Charity Robey)

Donnamarie Barnes unlocked the door of the 18th century house at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm and moved through rooms full of sheeted furniture, aged wallpaper and neat piles of very old books. She addressed the place as if she were visiting an old friend who has been shut-in.  (more…)

10/26/16 11:29am
sylvester manor hauntings

Sylvester Manor. (Credit: Annette Hinkle)

She had just started working at Sylvester Manor as a housekeeper, now almost 40 years ago, when Rose Wissemann came in touch with something one afternoon that still haunts her.

She recently recalled that unforgettable day when she had been doing some work in one of the smaller houses on the Manor grounds. As suddenly as a shadow shifts across a floor, an unsettling feeling stole over her. It was a sense that even though she was alone in the place, something — someone? — was with her. She stood still in the room. More than one presence, in some kind of terrible distress, was very near. (more…)