Tilly Foster Educational Institute – Official Ribbon Cutting & Facility Tour
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
What took place at Tilly Foster Farm today?
County Executive MaryEllen Odell with Dr. James M. Ryan, District Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer, Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES, announced the official opening of the new Tilly Foster Educational Institute.
Why is this significant?
The reopening of Tilly Foster as the County’s first public institute for career education offers a diversity of benefits by putting an under-used county asset to work: Rental income from BOCES will serve to offset the costs of maintaining and preserving this beautiful historical property and BOCES’ Culinary Arts program, as well as future programs, including environmental science and veterinary science, give our children greater educational and career options right here in Putnam.
In the future, we expect to offer expanded services and educational opportunities, such as early intervention pre-k and adult continuing education classes, as well as support from other private partners, including Cornell Cooperative Extension.
What is the history behind Tilly Foster?
In 2002, the county acquired 199-acre Tilly Foster Farm with $3.9M from East of Hudson Water Quality Funds. The property was purchased to save it from development and to protect our water quality. The county took over management of the property in January 2014, and embraced the challenge to save this historical icon of Putnam’s farming heritage, while making it an economically viable county asset.
Why were renovations needed, and what was done to the site?
After extensive public meetings with Putnam residents, it was determined that Tilly Foster would best serve the community by opening its gates again and offering an educational component, as well as maintaining the site’s farm and agricultural heritage as a way of sustaining itself. In order to bring Tilly Foster back to life, extensive rehab was required to achieve code compliance, general safety and usability, including infrastructure enhancements/replacement associated with the Water Supply, Power Supply and Septic System.
How much money did it cost to renovate the site?
In the last few years, the county spent $2.4M to renovate various facilities on the property. Of the $2.4M in renovation costs, approximately $1.1M was used to completely replace the failing water supply, power supply and septic system for the entire site. In addition, the lodge was renovated and structurally made safe for public access including, bringing all utilities and amenities up to today’s building code requirements. The remaining funds were used to complete extensive site work, including walls, roads, parking and drainage, and to upgrade and repair buildings 2, 4and 9, also known as, the cottage, “office/classroom space”, and the barn, respectively.
In addition to BOCES educational programming, how else will Tilly Foster be utilized by the community?
In phase two of the renovation, we will complete Tilly’s Table, a Farm to Table venue, which we expect to open by April 1, 2017. The management of this will go out to bid to a private enterprise over the next few weeks, similar to our management arrangement that we currently enjoy at the Putnam County Golf Course. Use of the venue for weddings and other special events is expected to draw large numbers of clients from the Hudson Valley Region.
Upon completion in spring 2017, the new Tilly Foster will feature a farm and lodge, including classrooms, teaching kitchen, conference room, and farm to table venue. Plans also include a general store and visitor information center located in the main barn.
Tilly Foster Educational Institute was designed as a destination for tourists and residents of the County. When BOCES is not in-session, use of the state-of-the-art teeaching kitchen and classrooms will be open to our veterans, libraries, schools, seniors and non-profits. We also hope to kickoff Putnam’s version of Top Chef, which will incorporate our culinary talents, local farms and eating establishments, as well as dovetailing with BOCES internship opportunities for students.
In complement to BOCES’ Culinary Arts program, Tilly’s Table will offer the Hudson Valley Region a uniquely enjoyable and educational farm-to-table dining experience, utilizing produce sourced from local farms.
Additionally, our farm will be a point of collaboration and education among Hudson Valley Farmers and the Keep Putnam Farming movement. We expect the farm to continue to draw families and animal lovers who wish to experience the natural beauty and unique landscape that Tilly Foster offers.
We also expect to enhance our senior meal programs through nutritional education, and healthy farm-to-table produce that is sourced locally at the Tilly Foster farm.