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A Farmhouse is not a farm

Posted by commackcommunityassociation on June 14, 2010 at 10:37 AM

A Farmhouse is not a Farm

Next Thursday’s vote to turn over the fate of the historic Marion Carl Farm is a challenging choice for many. The proposal will eventually bring in more tax revenue—if the town allows dozens of condos to be built. And the farm house, on the National Register of Historic Places, will be restored and then resold to a private party who will then pay taxes.

But a farmhouse, no matter how historic and important, is not a farm.

The magnificent thing about the remaining nine acres of Marion Carl Farm (house, barns, outbuildings and land) is that it is almost a perfectly complete time capsule of that complex, sustainable and successful ecosystem, the American Family farm. Such farms, and the values and ethics they instilled, made America the greatest nation in the world in the 20th Century.

Most people today believe the term organic is a reference to lack of chemicals in food. But its original application was to describe the farms themselves—farms that functioned as a complete organism with sustainable practices and agrarian values that ensured respect for people, animals, and the land.

Ironically there is a local food revolution sweeping the country today which is desperately looking for examples and opportunities to re-educate our society and our young people and reconnect them with these important ideals. What better mission could await this property?

I have been part of the “rescue” and preservation of the abandoned Hobbs Family farm in Centereach for some four years now. It is the last farm in the area, and the last African American family farm on Long Island. We have done so with volunteer labor, community and government support, and a mission to fed hungry Long Islanders and educate our youth. It was not an easy process, but in meeting the challenge, we have also developed a new sense of community identity in the area. I am humbled and proud when I now tell people that children “for untold generations” will benefit from our efforts.

The Commack School board’s decision to sell makes financial sense, and it was the best offer they knew about at the time of this proposal. They have owned the property for over 40 years. But they never contacted organizations like the Peconic Land Trust, who have come up with creative solutions, using both public and private resources, to preserve over 10,000 acres of farmland on Long Island. There are good people willing and anxious to work for such creative solutions here.

It would be an irony of tragic proportions if a 300 year old farmstead, intact and preserved for so long already, should be dismembered now when there is such a resurgence of interest nationwide in all things agrarian. Extinction, of animals and historic farms, is forever.

Tom Lyon, co-director

Hobbs Community Farm

178 Oxhead Road

Centereach, NY 11720

631-219-0783

631-928-4317

Categories: Marion Carll Farm

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5 Comments

Reply John Mc Cormack
3:03 PM on June 14, 2010 
Once upon a time (49yrs ago ) at the corner of Commack rd &Jericho turnpke stood a historic bldg called The Commack Hotel...It could have represented a symbol of Commack history and landmark !! NO....they demolished this historic building for a Goodyear tire store!! Let us not let history repeat it's self and sell our historic Marion Carl Farm.for condos!!
Reply Mary Alexandrovich
11:52 AM on June 19, 2010 
Money should Not be the reason to for distruction of a historical place like that!! Our beautiful Long Island has lost enough of it's naturl beauty and our poor animals have lost too much of their forests and their dwelling places. Enough is ENOUGH! Mation Carll Farm should NOT be destroid!! NO! NO! NO!!
Reply Joseph Coen
3:38 PM on July 7, 2010 
I remember working with BOCES staff who were restroring the farm back in the early 1990's. Although it seems that the school district has not not done a great job of keeping up the farm buildings since then, I agree with Tom Lyon that the farm is a perfect microcosm of the what a farm and farm life was about here on Long Island.
For models of what the farm could be I would point to the Queens County Farm Museum in eastern Queens. It is the last farm in Queens, with some historic buildings, some working fields, etc. When my children were small we used to take them to a variety of events at the farm, ranging from fairs, to Native American Pow Wows. There were even farm animals for the kids to pet and feed. I believe the farm is also open for visits by school children.
Another resource of models for running the farm as an educational non-profit is the Association for State and Local History (AASLH.) A fair number of its members are historic farms and/or houses.
Reply George Alexandrovich Sr
1:20 PM on July 8, 2010 
If this farm can be a profitable undertaking, why not put someone smart in charge of the property if you don't want to be bothered, and make it money making enterprize for school, instead of taxing us - grandparents who are living in Commack for more than 45 years. School taxes are killing us.
If you do not know how to conduct profitable business or farm, go back to school . I hope that in this country's schools still have business administration courses! When we moved to Suffolk , there were no sales taxes here, do you know it? Now they are the highest in the nation ! Shame on us!
Reply Mary Alexandrovich
4:10 PM on July 8, 2010 
Some things are more precious then gold. And that old farm certainly IS!! PRESEVE IT!! Do NOT sell it!