Brentwood, NY

Sisters of St. Joseph

Project Type

Conservation, Stewardship, Farms for the Future

Acreage

212

Things to do

Farming

Access

Limited

Address
1725 Brentwood Road, Brentwood, NY 11717

About

The 212-acre Brentwood campus of the Sisters of St. Joseph has become a beacon of hope and conservation in western Suffolk County. In 2015, the Sister reaffirmed their Land Ethic Statement, which is a guide for their future decision regarding the property based in their charism and awareness of the responsibility we all have for the health of the Earth and in particular for the Long Island Bioregion. That same year, the Sisters reached out to the Trust for our assistance to help them achieve their vision.

The campus is an amazing property with a variety of structures, uses, and opportunities. The focus is the motherhouse which houses a large number of the sisters, administrative offices, the Sacred Heart Chapel, a Muslim school, universal pre-kindergarten, BOCES, and educational programs for immigrant women. In addition, there is the Maria Regina Residence which is not limited to the sisters and is ranked the 13th best assisted health care facility on Long Island.

In all, there were approximately 103 acres undeveloped, including fallow farmland and a healthy woodland and an expansive lawn. The Sisters had also established an Organic Garden on the land, to learn, and to teach the community how to grow crops organically.

Our first step was to work with the Sisters on the development of concept plans in balance with their Land Ethic Statement, based on an evaluation of the land, structures, uses, soils, zoning, access, and surrounding uses. The first step in our work with the Sisters was to develop a number of Concept Plans for the property. This Concept Plan was immediately instrumental in siting a solar array which now generates approximately 60% of the electricity for the Brentwood campus. It also sited expansion for their wastewater management system and identified areas for preservation.

The majority of the Brentwood campus consists of prime agricultural soils (HaA & RdA) and has a history of being a working farm. Approximately 50 years ago, the land fell fallow with the exception of a small portion the Sisters utilize for their Organic Garden. Through the concept planning, we identified with the Sisters approximately 27 acres for farmland preservation and made a recommendation to sell the development rights to Suffolk County under their Farmland Protection Program. The program, however, requires the land to be in agricultural production. In order to begin this process, Town approval was required under zoning.

Upon receipt of Town approval, the Trust then worked to secure organic farmers to return the land to agricultural production. In that first season, three farm operations leased leased the land: Thera Farms with Teddy Bokas, Joe Corbett and FREE (Family Residences & Essential Enterprises, Inc.).

Sites

In late August of 2016, after a season of agricultural production, the Trust applied to the Suffolk County Farmland Protection Program on behalf of the Sisters — the County made an offer to acquire the development rights in mid-2017 and in April of 2019 the transaction was completed.

The Trust continues to manage the farmland leases and has secured seven different farmers. One of these farmers has a farm stand on site where he sells organic vegetables to the local community which is one of the most underserved in Suffolk County.

In 2020, the following farmers are leasing land from the Sisters under this program:

From Lawn to Habitat

The Brentwood campus also boasts an enormous lawn that is mowed weekly. While it is beautiful, it is not sustainable nor is it the best use of the land. The Trust, along with Rusty Schmidt of Nelson, Pope and Voorhees, recommended and implemented a native meadow within a portion of this lawn. Not only aestheically pleasing, the meadow also serves as a habitat for birds and small animals, is a productive ecosystem, and is environmentally sustainable. The native meadow proved to be a success and we are now expanding the native meadow to include significantly more acreage.


There are still so many components of the property to consider with regards to education, spirituality, sustainability and an overall trail system. The Trust, in collaboration with Nelson, Pope and Voorhees has developed a Master Plan to address these components for the Sisters of St. Joseph. We look forward to sharing more of these developments as they move forward.

Our sincere thanks goes out to the Sisters of St. Jospeh for taking this leap of faith and working with us to preserve and cultivate this amazing land and for their commitment to the community.

Historic Preservation

Another one of the suggestions made by the Trust was the idea of historic preservation and made the recommendation for several of the buildings on site. Sister Clara Santos spearheaded this endeavor and applied to the National History Registry. Members came to the site and determined that the entire campus, as a whole, would be eligible for designation on the National Historic Registry. The Brentwood campus of the Sisters of St. Joseph is now designated on the National History Registry.

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Get Directions

Sisters of St. Joseph

Get Directions

Sisters of St. Joseph

1725 Brentwood Road, Brentwood, NY 11717

Things To Do

Farming
Farming

Get Involved

To learn more about the Sisters of St. Joseph, please contact them at 631.273.1187 or visit them online at https://brentwoodcsj.org/

You can also contact our staff who is working with the Sisters, Dan Heston, Director of Agricultural Programs, or Kim Quarty, Senior Project Manager.

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