Centuries of History at Benner’s Farm in East Setauket

Hanging with the sheep at Benner’s Farm, Photo: Courtesy Benner’s Farm

Nestled within the rolling hills of East Setauket—roughly halfway between the East and West Ends of Long Island—lies Benner’s Farm, which has been in operation since 1751. The Benners are the seventh family to live on the land, having worked it for the past 40 years. They’ve raised all four of their children and some of their grandchildren on the farm, which has instilled an appreciation for nature, self-sufficiency, sustainable consumption, creative thinking and problem-solving in their family, as well as in the thousands of people who have visited over the years.

Thanks to Bob and Jean Benner, the farm has been open to the public for the past 38 years and has offered a diverse selection of educational programs, festivals and musical events. It all started four decades ago when a friend and colleague of Bob said, “Hey Bob, wanna buy a farm?”

Three of Bob and Jean’s children help run the farm—if you visit, you’ll get to meet and talk with them. You can see the animals, harvest the crops and learn about the trials, tribulations and joys of running a sustainable organic farm on Long Island. A visit to Benner’s Farm is truly an intergenerational experience for both the visitors and the owners. It’s one of the few places with a hands-on, direct link to the past that also facilitates a much-needed return to a calmer, slower way of life. In a busy world, Benner’s Farm is a place where you can relax beneath a tree and be lulled by the sounds of nature all around you.

Maple sugar being boiled down to make maple syrup
Maple Sugaring Day—winter at Benner’s Farm, Photo: Barbara Lassen

The farm is open to the public all summer for summer camps and a Friday night music series, and they’re open most weekends in the spring and fall. They offer special events and festivals year-round, starting with Maple Sugaring Day in February; a May Day Festival that features dancing around a maypole; and you can enjoy strawberry shortcake and pick your own strawberries at the Strawberry Festival on June 11 and 12. In September, you’ll have the opportunity to listen to local and touring artists in this bucolic setting at the Folk and Fiddle Festival, followed by the Harvest Festival in October.

The Benners also offer their farm as a party venue for birthdays and weddings. But don’t let that lull you into thinking they succumb to commercial pitfalls. All events and parties at the farm are offered in a good old-fashioned way; no amusement rides or cheap plastic trinkets offered here! Benner’s Farm is a place for more traditional amusements! From their “fly to the sky” swing to feeding the brand new animal babies, this is the place for all ages to enjoy true family fun!

Tractor at Benner’s Farm
Tractor at Benner’s Farm, Photo: Courtesy Benner’s Farm

But Benner’s Farm is a working farm and, in order to remind people of the purpose of some of the animals on the farm, the Benners have given food-related names to the meat-producing animals under their care. Over the years they’ve raised Spam, Quarter-Pounder, Chuck and Filet Mignon (called Minnie for short). In fact, the very first program on the farm, 37 years ago, was a program requested by a local nursery school that would teach the children where their food came from.

Benner’s Farm is rich with a history that spans three centuries, and new history is made every day.

Benner’s Farm is located at 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, Setauket-East Setauket. For more information about events, call 631-689-8172 or visit bennersfarm.com.

Bunny love at Benner’s Farm
at Benner’s Farm, Photo: Courtesy Benner’s Farm

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