Your Trust: Good Works, Great People

Trust honors the very best in preservation.

If you asked Manhattanites about the suburbs of Westchester County, N.Y., you might hear about opulent mansions, strong public schools, and stunning views of the Hudson River. Good farming would be an unlikely response. However, that could soon change.

Convinced of the economic, health, and culinary benefits of locally raised produce and livestock, David Rockefeller, the grandson of industrialist John D. Rockefeller, has revived his ancestral farm in Pocantico Hills, about 20 miles from midtown Manhattan. Seeking to honor his late wife, Peggy, who founded the American Farmland Trust, Rockefeller, with his daughter's help, turned the site into an agricultural preserve called the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. The center consists of a working farm, programs that teach ecologically sound and community-based farming, and a privately owned restaurant called Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

"My wife and I felt that small farms have always been the base of this country," said Rockefeller. "To substitute for them large corporate farms, which, in some respects, are efficient and good, is a mistake in terms of people's lives" (see "Up on the Farm," p. 28). The farm's Norman-style fieldstone dairy barns, which Rockefeller's father, John D. Jr., commissioned prominent architect Grosvenor Atterbury to design in 1933, now contain the center's classrooms, exhibit halls, and offices, as well as the restaurant. The farm operated until his father's death in 1962; then Peggy Rockefeller used the space for her own cattle until she died in 1996.

In the summer of 2004, Boston architects Machado and Silvetti Assoc. converted the barns to house the center and also built a 24,000-square-foot greenhouse. The farm now provides livestock, poultry, fruits, and vegetables to the educational programs, the restaurant, a local farmers' market, and a buyers' co-op. On Sept. 29, the Stone Barns Center and 21 other recipients received National Preservation Awards at the National Preservation Conference in Portland, Ore.

"With a place like Stone Barns, you have an opportunity to tell a story about where food comes from," said Blue Hill chef and co-owner Dan Barber. "That story is what separates good food from great food."

 

For more photos, stories, and tips, subscribe to the print edition of Preservation magazine.