Home News SPACE on Ryder Farm to suspend operations

SPACE on Ryder Farm to suspend operations

SPACE on Ryder Farm to suspend operations
Sheep at Ryder Farm in Brewster

BREWSTER—The summer months are particularly busy for SPACE on Ryder Farm, a nonprofit that pioneers a novel approach to integrating artist residencies with organic farming.

Established in 1795, Ryder Farm is one of the oldest family-owned farms on the East Coast. It is situated on the Wappinger people’s ancestral land on the grounds of a family residence that dates back 227 years, at the boundary between Putnam and Westchester counties. It was also among the pioneers of organic farming adoption.

In order to preserve her family’s farm and provide artists with time and space to create, eighth-generation Ryder founded SPACE in 2011.

At Ryder Farm, SPACE has housed more than 1,400 people since its inception.

Residents are welcome to explore the various fields, gardens, and workspaces throughout the site while they are there. Paddle boards and canoes are also available at the lake.

Over their stay, each resident is expected to return something to the farm. This entails setting aside time to work in the garden for a lot of people. For some, it has only involved reading a tarot card or poetry.

However, regrettably, the creative and farming sanctuary has declared that, after 13 years, its writers’ residency—the Working Farm—will be its final one for the foreseeable future.

The organization’s farming endeavors will persist until the conclusion of 2024, as it fulfills an agreement with Putnam County Cornell Cooperative Extension to furnish emergency food providers across New York with 50,000 pounds of fresh produce, in addition to its local farm stand members. After then, the organization will halt operations but not dissolve as the board looks into potential solutions for SPACE’s long-term viability.

Janet Olshansky, co-chair of Space at Ryder Farm, expressed sadness.Despite our best efforts, we are unable to overcome the obstacles that have arisen over the past four years due to the epidemic and the loss of significant financing sources. We are eternally grateful to everyone who has supported the work done and developed here, and we are tremendously proud of it. Although SPACE’s current chapter is coming to an end, she added, “we hope that SPACE will grow again with time.”

Co-chair of the non-profit Lee Seymour continued, “We’ve seen hundreds of arts organizations, from residencies to major producing theatres, close and contract over the last few years.” Although facing this is terrible, SPACE is not alone, and this was not a snap decision. We’ve been calculating numbers and exploring every avenue for months, but the simple fact is that we are not exempt from the same financing shortage that is wreaking havoc on the larger arts industry. Additionally, despite the board’s and the staff’s tireless efforts to close the gap, we were unable to raise enough money to sustain operations through the summer. If anything, I hope that SPACE can encourage people to reconsider and improve the sustainability of American arts and cultural institutions.


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