Culinary Arts Program Launches at Tilly Foster

County says it has big plans for farm

The Tilly Foster Educational Institute, which includes a test kitchen and classrooms that will be used by the Putnam/Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCEs) for its Culinary Arts program, opened on Sept. 13 at the county-owned Tilly Foster Farm in Brewster.

The county also plans on April 1 to open Tilly’s Table, a farm-to-table restaurant and lodge that will be run by a private catering firm for weddings and special events. As part of the renovation, a general store and visitor’s center will be located in the main barn.

Students at the Tilly Foster Educational Institute with County Executive MaryEllen Odell (in red), James Ryan of BOCES and state senator Sue Serino (photo provided)

Students at the Tilly Foster Educational Institute with County Executive MaryEllen Odell, James Ryan of BOCES and state senator Sue Serino (photo provided)

“The reopening of Tilly Foster as the county’s first public institute for career education offers a diversity of benefits by putting an under-used county asset to work,” County Executive MaryEllen Odell said in a statement. “Rental income from BOCES will serve to offset the costs of maintaining and preserving this beautiful historical property.”

BOCES, which provides career and technical education courses for 18 school districts, including Cold Spring and Garrison, says it will offer other programs at the farm, including environmental science and veterinary science. The county hopes to add early intervention pre-K and adult continuing education classes there, as well as form partnerships with groups such as the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

When BOCES classes are not in session, the county said the kitchen and classrooms will be available for use by veterans, libraries, schools, seniors and non-profits.

The teaching kitchen at Tilly Foster Farm (photo provided)

The teaching kitchen at Tilly Foster Farm (photo provided)

Putnam County purchased the 199-acre farm in 2002 with $3.9 million from East of Hudson Water Quality funds and took over management from the Society of the Preservation of Putnam County in January 2014. It has since spent $2.4 million to renovate the former museum site, including $1.1 million to replace the water supply, power supply and septic system and to bring the lodge up to code. The remaining funds were spent on site work such as walls, roads, parking and drainage, and on upgrading the cottage, an office/classroom space and the barn.

The county said the contract to run Tilly’s Table would go out for bid in the next few weeks and will include the same management arrangement used at the county-owned Putnam County Golf Course.

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