Putnam to Partner with BOCES at Tilly Foster Farm

Putnam to Partner with BOCES at Tilly Foster Farm
Equine Program in the Planning

At the August 20 meeting of the Physical Services Committee Deputy County Executive Bruce Walker announced a plan whereby Putnam County would partner with Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES to bring an educational component to the county-owned Tilly Foster Farm. The first of five planned courses would start in September 2015.

“Education was one of the many suggestions voiced during our Tilly Foster Task Force meetings,” said Walker “and now we’re moving forward with BOCES to do exactly that.”

BOCES Director of Career & Technical Education Catherine Balestrieri addressed the committee at the standing-room-only meeting. Explaining that the Yorktown BOCES Center’s culinary courses were “maxed out” in offerings and space, Balestrieri said the Tilly Foster Farm location offered the ideal for a new culinary arts experience for future students.

“By locating at Tilly Foster, we can offer a unique culinary program which will include internships at many of the surrounding restaurants in this particular area,” she said.

The Culinary Arts course would be held in the building known as The Lodge on weekdays with three sessions of classes running from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. While The Lodge already has a commercial kitchen, it is presently unusable. The County will work closely with BOCES who will supply additional equipment including refrigerators, freezers, a six-burner stove, dishwasher, ice machine, work tables, cabinets and cooking utensils.

Walker and Highways and Facilities Commissioner Fred Pena said preliminary plans for building out the kitchen to create additional work space were already prepared. The plans were first introduced to the public at the July Country Fair. The Legislature had already approved a $300,000 bond for work to be done on the 199-acre farm and a portion of that will be used to build out the Lodge kitchen to suit the number of students who will be working there.  Additional bathrooms will also be added to The Lodge facility in order to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The plans can be viewed on the Tilly Foster Farm webpage at:  www.PutnamTillyFoster.com and on the County’s website at: www.putnamcountyonline.com.

While the first course offering will be Culinary Arts where students will learn to prepare breakfasts, lunches and dinners in a commercial kitchen using professional equipment, Balestrieri said BOCES would also like to offer several more programs in the near future. Those classes include New Visions

Environmental Science & Sustainability, Animal Care, Animal Care Skills, and Horse Science and Management, all of which will be held on the farm premises.

Animals have already begun to return to the former dairy and horse-breeding facility and more are due in the near future. Presently residing in a handcrafted chicken coop built by Mahopac Falls Eagle Scout Thomas Quinn, is a flock of 21 colorfully feathered and frizzled fowl. The eight-week-old chicks are under the care of Teresa Delahanty, a veterinary technician, who now lives on the farm with her family.

Soon to be introduced to the farm will be a pair of Kunekune piglets. This breed, while rare in the United States, is known for its friendly, docile nature and ease in interacting with humans.  The history of these smaller pigs is not entirely clear, but it is thought they were brought to New Zealand from the Far East. The Kunekune were first introduced to the United Kingdom in 1992 and it wasn’t until 1996 that these friendly grazers were imported to the United States.

Delahanty explained that the KuneKune’s friendly disposition and grazing tendencies, rather than the destructive rooting habit of most pigs, made them an ideal breed for the farm.

The female piglets will be approximately 8 weeks old when they arrive. Like their two-legged counterparts on the farm, the piglets need names. To add your name suggestion, visit Tilly Foster Farm’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/tillyfosterfarm and leave a comment under the photo of the Kunekune piglets.