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Tilly Foster Farm Closes Friday

Tilly Foster Farm in Southeast is closing Friday, Jan. 31, and that means all activities will cease.

"The county is currently working on a plan for the farm," reads a post on the farm's Facebook page. "We would like to thank everyone for the support over the last five years."

Financial support for the farm ended last year, David Propper reports in this Putnam Examiner story. The Whipple family and Preserve Putnam, a non-profit dedicated to protecting the historical architectural character and natural environment of the county, have overseen the farm in recent years. 

All of the rare farm animals—Patch featured many of them in this video from May 2013—have been sold, according to a statement from the farm. 

Tilly Foster hosted community gatherings throughout the year, including events like the Christmas Craft Fair and Spring Fling. 

The Putnam County Antique Machinery Association’s collection of antique tractors and equipment will remain at the farm. The Rock and Roll Museum will be open to the public on certain weekend days through the winter. Call 845-225-9135 for more information.

What are your thoughts on this chapter in the farm's history? One Tilly Foster volunteer shared her feelings on the closing here. Another Patch user sounded off here, and one more here. Have your say in the comments section below. 

Interested in sharing more opinions with your neighbors? Head over to the Patch boards, or start your own blog.

Lisa Larca Grosz January 31, 2014 at 08:33 AM
Seems a shame to hand over operations to the town or county as they seem to ruin everything they get their grubby little hands on like the Prospect Bridge or Minor Road or all the flipping pot holes around town. Just another lovely property they'll let go to waste and ruin.
Mary McGovern January 31, 2014 at 11:03 AM
This is so very sad. So many beautiful farms, and land have turned into golf courses and condominiums in Putnam it would be tragic to see this happen at Tilly Foster.
Randy Maurer January 31, 2014 at 12:05 PM
What a shame. I loved going to "the farm" and see the mule and bring him carrots. I also got a few christmas trees and christmas items. THANK YOU to the WHIPPLE family for trying. It's all gone now thanks to the personel agenda of some of the Southeast board members. You know who you are. We the people will most likely have to foot future bills on our taxes.
Ann Fanizzi January 31, 2014 at 01:22 PM
Mary - the Farm is not closing; it is permanently preserved as open space, thanks to the residents who refused to have developers make it the golf course or condominiums that you feared. So please don't worry on that score. Mary contact me and help me Restore Tilly Foster, Randy, the Southeast Town Board had nothing whatsoever to do with the Whipples leaving - they did it to themselves by thinking that they were entitled to have the Farm as their playground without questions being asked - well they had a lease and Randy you know any lease, you abide by it. They didn't; defied the legislature when they were asked to explain the financials and the management of the Farm; they took the animals and were going to take the animals shelters that I purchased for $20,000 and Meredith Whipple took Sophie in whom I have part interest. Through my attorney, I made an offer to buy Nate, the donkey you love so much and pay the remainder for Sophie. They wouldn't hear of it. Instead they put mops, brooms, couches, chairs that Whipple had - Tilly was used as a warehouse. I just left the Farm - it looks like a dump. Never did the Farm look this way and I have been connected with the Farm for over a decade. Shame on the Whipples and the crowd surrounding them.
Anthony January 31, 2014 at 02:02 PM
looked pretty nice from the road. it was better than nothing and nice to see animals there again. A fairly newcomer like yourself wouldn't have remebered that though. sometimes 80% of something is better than 100% of nothing.
kevin daniels January 31, 2014 at 02:07 PM
A suggestion to the county government, don't let private horse boarding ever enter into your mind for future use a the farm . There were a number of people that entered an rfp and Fanizzi stood in their way from bringing public programs. Many boarders didn't understand the place was public etc. the idea was a disaster. when they needed reeling in they ran to there local legi and whined and got their way. Honestly the place needs to by divided into a number of interest groups to handle different interests and programs. Im not a big Whipple fan , but he did try. Nobody told Fanizzi to donate her money to Whipple. The County owes her NOTHING .Time to show her to the door. Hire a farm programs manager with experience and stop reacting to a 1% mouth piece..Good Luck with it, Kevin
Ann Fanizzi January 31, 2014 at 04:10 PM
You mean, Kevin, the operator who was cited by the State for violations as to the care of his horses and finally closed his place. Did I stand in the way? A lot of people did who cared more for the welfare of the horses than this operator did and went to the legislature and to Bondi and they turned him down. As for the County not owing me anything - I never asked; I didn't give it to Whipple; I gave it to the people of the County to enjoy. The Farm is there because a lot of us fought to keep it open and preserved, Where were you? Doing nothing.
kevin daniels January 31, 2014 at 05:41 PM
More misinformation from the Fanizzi propaganda machine. Multiple proposals all interested in providing programs and you claim they were cited, show me the proof, not. And they actually all ran farm businesses, And you ? Where are your credentials? You got your training from Green Acres re-runs. Whipple did give it his best shot. Step aside and let the pros handle things.
sheri January 31, 2014 at 09:28 PM
But no animals or events?
Ann Fanizzi January 31, 2014 at 11:34 PM
From Brewster 10509 - Jeff Green - here's a giant CLOSED sign at Tilly Foster. Who put that up? If it's the county they're finally admitting their stupidity and the sign should be moved to the county office building and hung from the roof. If it's Whipple he's sticking it to the county who asked too many questions like, 'could you please honor the contract and show us the financials?" Either way it's got to come down. J
Farm God January 31, 2014 at 11:44 PM
I want to hear more input from other people ..come on people let's hear what you have to say !
John D February 01, 2014 at 10:11 AM
We're mountain biking through the fields today and tomorrow. Unofficial event hosted by me! Come on over, there's a few of us on the north side this morning, the weather is great today!
Elizabeth R. Apgar Triano February 01, 2014 at 06:47 PM
The whole thing was poorly handled... all that fanfare about how lucky we were and sure it could have been great. The heirloom species, the lovely historic site.... why was it asking too much to provide one's bookkeeping like a grown-up? Something's very fishy here.
guipiwan February 03, 2014 at 11:04 AM
I think Putnam county politics is the bottom of the barrel. I can't believe the people we voted into office are not investigating the whipples. It's probable a case of the old boys club....don't ask any questions...we will pretend nothing happened. Shame on the political people who met with whipples and never demanded an explanation. No wonder political people want to develop southeast into a shopping center....they need tax dollars to support all the money that is disappearing without any question.
Southeaster February 03, 2014 at 11:06 PM
I really do not think Whipple "gave it his best shot," as Kevin Daniels said above. He initially brought some beautiful rare animals to the farm, but after that it seemed as though he checked out of the operation. The terms of his lease required him to give an account of the farm's financial records to the county. He failed to do that. Part of Preserve Putnam's goal, as stated on the Tilly Foster web site, was to "make the farm self-sufficient to reduce burden on the taxpayer." It's very hard to know whether an operation is self-sufficient or not when the financial records aren't released. Another goal was to "keep Tilly Foster Farm free and open to the people of Putnam." But over the last few years, it didn't seem the farm was open very much. Numerous times I tried to visit the general store and museum during the advertised hours of operation and found the building closed and dark. Yet another goal was to "educate the public about farming, local history and animal husbandry." Tilly Foster did host occasional community events under Whipple's watch, but these were few and far between. I also have to say that when I stopped by to see the animals, some of them didn't look very well cared for. Some may disagree and feel that the Whipples were doing enough, but the bottom line is that they signed the lease knowing full well that they would be responsible to provide financial reports to the county. The county tried repeatedly to obtain those reports, and Whipple repeatedly refused. Why did he refuse? What did he have to hide? I'm sorry, but donating a generous sum of money does not then make one above the law.
DeborahV. February 05, 2014 at 09:14 PM
As I read the many articles and controversy regarding the closing of Tilly Foster Farm, I too am saddened. I've lived in Putnam County for over 40 years,have attended many memorable activities there and will miss the animals as I travel Route 312. Many thanks to the Whipple Family for their effort and dedication to preserve the land and care for the rare and endangered animals housed there. Would also like to thank the citizens that brought art and beauty,and others for their help in restoring what a few years ago were dilapidated conditions at the farm. "A Learning Experience for All ages became a motto,with that learning tools were provided to accomplish that vision for all interested. Putnam County is in dire need of a college or tech school,the closing of the 199 acre Tilly Foster Farm opens the exciting opportunity to use part of that land to benefit the citizens of Putnam county,in particular our young adults. Those wishing to further their education are forced to travel many miles to other counties to obtain a degree or learn skills to secure gainful employment and a better future. I am furthered saddened by the memory of fellow high school student Jill Garrett who was brutally murdered in 1979 by a stable hand on the property that was then Benedict Farm, just yards from where residents rent plots to grow vegetable gardens. What an amazing tribute it would be to Jill,who never had the opportunity to finish high school or got the chance to attend a college or tech school,to erect a school in her memory for the young adults of Putnam County.
Ann Fanizzi February 06, 2014 at 02:55 AM
Debra -I know the tragic story which pained the Benedicts greatly. However, there is an incredible 300-acre property in Mahopac at the juncture of Baldwin Place and Rte 6 which a developer was going to turn it into another retail center. However, a group of us suggested the establishment of a community college which is so much in need in Putnam County. Increasingly more and more people realize that community colleges and good jobs go hand in hand.
Southeaster February 10, 2014 at 01:55 PM
I wouldn't mind seeing a community college in Putnam County, but Tilly Foster is not the place for it. It's one of the few historic farms left in Putnam and certainly in Southeast. With Tilly Foster, there's such a wonderful opportunity to preserve a tradition for tourism and educational purposes. There's already a community garden on the property. Tilly Foster can be a haven for animals once again, or perhaps there could be an eco-friendly, farm-fresh restaurant. It could conduct historical tours or educate people in sustainable living. There is plenty of other land available for a community college. But, as Ann Fanizzi noted above, a lot of it gets swallowed up by big retail and housing developments. Just look at what's happened to the land further down Rt. 312, where the hillsides are now covered in big box stores. If people want to see a college instead, they need to push the town board and county legislature for this. If people don't speak up, we're just going to get more retail.
Carol Lake February 20, 2014 at 06:39 PM
I am new to the area, coming from NH, where I was the founder and ex. director of a 300 acre nonprofit educational farm. I have only driven by the property once, and was delighted to learn that someone here was doing the same type of educational farm. Or so I thought. Is there community interest in having a working small farm that offered classes, camps, workshops and other activities in sustainable agriculture?
Randy Maurer February 21, 2014 at 12:59 PM
Carol I am glad you are interested in the farm future, but you don't want any part of the Southeast and Brewster Gov. We had all that you mentioned and now it is gone due to the agenda of some officials.How long before its put on the backs of tax payers.
Southeaster February 21, 2014 at 03:14 PM
@Carol Lake: My impression is that there IS community interest in all of the above. At issue here is the fact that the county leased the farm to a family-run nonprofit with the stipulation that the family would provide an account of the farm's finances at regular intervals. They did not. When the county pressed them, they eventually released the records, but there were inexplicable discrepancies, and rather than account for them, they chose to back out of the lease. To my knowledge, there was NOT much in the way of regular classes, camps, or workshops under the former management, and one of the concerns I had (and heard from other people) was that the farm wasn't being utilized to its full potential for the public.

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