Plant and Sing on Shelter Island

Autumn is here, and it’s time to celebrate—but not just any party will do – it has to be the Sylvester Manor’s Fifth Annual Plant and Sing Benefit Festival on Shelter Island. The annual festival will be held Columbus Day weekend, October 5 through the 7, and proceeds will help fund the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.

“It’s a weekend of celebrating the culture of Shelter Island and the East End,” said Bennett Konesni, the Founder and Creative Director of the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm. “We’re combining literature and music, and the culture of food.”

The three-day event begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, and will feature more than 50 events, from musical and literary performances, to farm and kids activities, guided tours and a tractor and farm tool display and workshop. “It’s got everything connected to food and how it’s grown here,” Konesni said. “We’re really just trying to bring farming back to Shelter Island and celebrate the way the community comes together to make and share it.”

Food at the event will be provided by a number of East End and Shelter Island restaurants, including Vine Street Cafe, The Wandering Palette and SALT Waterfront Bar and Grill. “We’ve got these amazing food trucks that will be cooking up some really high-quality food that people can enjoy while watching the music or the literature,” Konesni said. Wine and beer will be available from The Old Vine Vineyards and Greenport Harbor Ales.

A number of local authors, including Shelter Island’s Kathleen Lynch and Christian McLean will be on hand to read and discuss their favorite works, and cookbook author Silvia Lehrer will holding a discussion and signing of her cookbook, “Savoring the Hamptons.” In addition, the festival will also be hosting nearly a dozen locally and nationally acclaimed musical acts, including the WhoDat Loungers, Brian Dolphin, and Lily and the Tigers.

Aside from the live music, staged readings and farm games, the Plant and Sing Festival will be celebrating harvest time with autumn-themed activities. “It’s really about celebrating and enjoying the season,” Konesni said. The farm will be hosting a sweet potato harvest, pumpkin painting and carving, butter churning, garlic shucking and planting, and a barn dance on Saturday evening. “We’re really just trying to make people aware of the history that’s here, get their hands in the dirt and learn what food is all about,” Konesni said.

Konesni’s family has been working the farm’s 243 acres since 1662, and he’s made it his mission to not only preserve it, but also to educated the community about Shelter Island’s agricultural heritage. “I’m the eleventh generation of my family that’s owned the land,” he said. “My vision is this educational farm that everybody can support and become a part of, both in its history and its future.” He’s also fighting to ensure that his family’s land is not developed into more houses. “We have a duel preservation and cultivation mission going on.”

The Sylvester Manor Educational Farm is an nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the historic plantation. “It has such a deep and rich culture that is often lost or forgotten about these days,” he said. “This will benefit the nonprofit and help us continue with our mission to preserve, cultivate and share those things.”

All of the activities are free to the public, with the exception of the special events, which include Saturday evening’s concert and barn dance, which begins at 6 p.m., and sunrise yoga, which will be held first thing Saturday and Sunday morning. Special Events Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at

“Tickets are going fast, so they should really check our website to make sure that you can buy them,” Konesni said. “We want to make sure we can get as many people into this as possible, but we also have limited space on the ground and we may sell out.” The website also features a detailed schedule of events and performers, as well as a listing of local hotels and Bed and Breakfasts on Shelter Island. “There’s so much going on that you really have to see it to believe it.” Konesni said.

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