The 216-acre Seminary of the Immaculate Conception has been a part of Lloyd Harbor history for centuries. We are very pleased to announce that this incredible natural area filled with mature forest, wetlands and meadows will become a permanent part of our community’s future. Today, thanks to the hard work, determination and generosity of many, a conservation future will be ensured for this local treasure. A partnership among the Seminary, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Village of Lloyd Harbor will permanently protect 200 acres of this extraordinary place for conservation. The transaction closing is expected in early 2024. New York State Parks will purchase 180 acres to be used as a passive preserve, perfect for walkers and birders and all who enjoy the extraordinary benefits of nature. The Village of Lloyd Harbor will purchase 20 acres which contains the Olmsted amphitheater and barn. The Seminary will retain 16 acres for its use as a retreat and conference center. Like most transactions of this size, a deal has been in the making for years. In late 2018, the Land Alliance was pleased to be invited by the Seminary Board to explore a transaction for conservation purposes. At that time, the objective was to protect the property and raise funds to make improvements to the Seminary building. The Land Alliance began by assisting Seminary leaders with mapping the land area, initiating an appraisal to better understand the value of the property and identifying potential conservation funders. Impressively the Town, County, State and Village and several Land Alliance supporters stepped up to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime deal! Then the pandemic hit, the world slowed down and the potential for a transaction became complicated. This historic investment by New York State is the largest open space acquisition ever made on Long Island. The Seminary is listed as a priority project in the New York State Open Space Plan and the Suffolk County Open Space Plan. It also was ranked #1 in priority by the Town of Huntington’s Environment, Open Space and Park Fund Advisory Committee. Its substantial forest and 40+ acres of open fields are like none other left in our North Shore community. In its former life, the estate was developed by Roland Ray Conklin, a descendant of John Conklin (who settled Huntington c. 1640). In 1913, Conklin and his wife, Mary MacFadden, built their grand William Eyre-designed home at what was then called Rosemary Farm. Mrs. Conklin had been involved in the theater in NYC and wanted to create the perfect place for entertaining their friends, who were leading actors, conductors and singers of the day. The result featured an enchanting Olmsted designed open-air theater. Mary died in 1924 and Bishop Thomas E. Molloy, with the support of parishioners, purchased the then 200–acre Rosemary Farm. To accommodate the growing number of men seeking priesthood, the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception was built and formally opened on September 28, 1930. For several decades the Seminary offered master’s degrees and admitted lay students not preparing for ordination. In September 2012, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn joined forces to consolidate their educational efforts into a single program at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. Since the relocation of the priestly formation program to Yonkers, the Seminary has taken on the role of a retreat house providing opportunities for spiritual enrichment for thousands of New Yorkers, a service they intend to continue for years to come. We couldn’t be more excited about this deal and are so grateful to all who, along the way, played a part in such an optimal outcome. Special thanks to the Seminary for choosing conservation and to New York State, Suffolk County, the Town of Huntington and the Village of Lloyd Harbor for being willing to do everything they could to protect this iconic property. In the end, thanks to the success of Governor Hochul’s 2022 NYS Environmental Bond Act, the State had the funds to acquire the bulk of the property, leaving monies for the County and Town to invest in other open space projects. We couldn’t have asked for a better conservation solution. And, once again, we are proud to be a part of such a generous community who prioritizes nature and the future health of our world.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County (CCE-Nassau) and the Land Alliance have teamed up to provide health and wellness programs in partnership with the Land Alliance Roosevelt Community Garden. “We are really excited about this partnership. There is a mountain of research supporting the positive impact that community gardens can have on health and well-being,” says Gregory Sandor, Executive Director of CCE-Nassau. In fact, several studies have shown that engaging with community gardens increases the availability and overall consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among participants. CCE-Nassau’s Master Gardener, Audrey Thomas, of Roosevelt elaborates, “If you want to eat healthy, you should know the benefits of having fresh vegetables and know how to grow them.” When paired with nutrition education and programming, the impact increases dramatically. Beth Labelson, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Educator with CCE-Nassau explains, “We see real behavior change among participants in our health and wellness programs. Not only does fruit and vegetable consumption increase among participants, but we also see improved healthy food choices, a willingness to try new foods and an improved awareness about the connections between good health and food.” Teen wellness program in Roosevelt Community Garden called Fuel for Success led by medical students from Hofstra University To this end, CCE-Nassau and the Land Alliance launched a teen wellness program in Roosevelt Community Garden called Fuel for Success. CCE-Nassau’s summer interns, pre-med students from Hofstra University, designed and developed a curriculum geared towards nutrition and fitness as a foundation for health. The students not only engaged participants in fun activities but also incorporated the garden in a recipe demonstration and tasting. “We cannot overstate the impact that community garden-based programs can have on obesity prevention among kids,” continues Labelson. “As we move into the winter months, we hope the partnership will shift to indoor spaces so we don’t lose the momentum we have created.” In fact, the partnership will move indoors to Roosevelt Public Library in October with the launch of Dining With Diabetes. This program pairs education about diabetes self-management with hands-on cooking demonstrations and recipe tasting. The incorporation of culinary skills and recipe tasting into the series has shown an impact beyond that of traditional diabetes education programs. Furthermore, information about participating in community and/or home gardening is woven into the fabric of the curriculum. Conserving our land and connecting people to it is fundamental in supporting the health and well-being of our communities. The interconnection among creating sustainable food systems, promoting land conservation, being stewards of the environment and using nature as an intervention strategy is increasingly being recognized as vital to improving social, emotional, and physical health and well-being. Dining with Diabetes Program in Partnership with CCE-Nassau, Roosevelt Public Library, Roosevelt PTSARecipe Tastings and Vegetable giveawayCooking Demonstrations
On Thursday, October 26th, the Land Alliance and partnering organizations held a grasslands symposium. It highlighted the significant work occurring on Long Island to protect and establish grasslands, as well as ways we can grow more biodiverse landscapes. The event was held at the Barn at Old Westbury Gardens. The symposium opened with an inspiring keynote address by Dwayne Estes, Executive Director and Co-founder of the Southeast Grasslands Initiative, Professor of Biology and Director of the Austin Peay State University Herbarium. He discussed the fascinating but untold story of how Long Island’s grasslands, like the Hempstead Plains, connect to other grassy ecosystems of the eastern U.S. This is what E.O. Wilson termed the “Southern Grassland Biome”. Audience members learned about the variety and interconnection of grassland ecosystems of Long Island and across the U.S. as well as about systems that have survived centuries of degradation and the species that depend on them. They also learned how the Southeastern Grasslands Institute is restoring grasslands and seeks to build partnerships on Long Island to help bring more attention and resources to the Hempstead Plains and other grassland initiatives on Long Island. A second keynote program was delivered by Rob Longiaru, Habitat Director, Friends of Hempstead Plains, who spoke about the history of the Hempstead Plains. Its existing acreage is home to 250 species of plants, including six state rare and/or endangered species. It is a storehouse of genetic resources, a cherished part of Nassau County’s heritage and a globally significant natural asset. There were two panel discussions, the first of which, Local Stories: Large Initiatives and Public/Private Partnerships, was moderated by Polly Wiegand of the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning & Policy Commission. Polly is con-sidered one of Long Island’s most knowledgeable grassland experts and is the founder of the Long Island Native Plant Initiative. Her panelists described their projects, objectives, steps in implementing them, ongoing management and lessons learned. While all had some shared experiences and challenges, the variety of information and stories kept audience members entranced. Sue Feustel of the Caumsett Foundation, for example, alluded to damage caused during intense rain one year and cautioned that projects should be prepared for more extreme weather events occurring with climate change. Nelson Pope Voorhis Landscape Ecologist Rusty Schmidt introduced the audience to the new meadow at the Sisters of St. Joseph property in Brentwood and how fire might be used to manage it. Rob Longiaru spoke about the successful use of fire this past spring at Hempstead Plains. Stephane Perreault described management successes and challenges of Greentree Foundation’s 70 acres of a variety of grassland systems. The second panel, Smaller Scale Projects and Building Habitat at Home, was led by John Turner. John is one of Long Island’s best loved naturalists and author of the legendary Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island, now in its second edition. The panelists shared information on habitat values of grasslands and meadows, how audience members can create habitat at home and where they work. They also described steps taken to acquire and transform a highly disturbed four-acre site into a thriving grassy ecosystem, the plants and wildlife found there and the management challenges that continue today. Anthony Marinello of Dropseed Native Landscapes educated participants about sourcing native plants wisely. Frank Piccininni of Spadefoot Design and Construction provided the nuts and bolts of converting lawn to habitat welcoming to wildlife. Rick Cech of the New York City Butterfly Club pointed out that caterpillars of 56 species of eastern butterflies feed on grasses. He noted, sadly, that surveys at Westchester’s Ward Pound Ridge have shown that there are fewer butterflies since 1980, with eight species lost. The Land Alliance’s Jane Jackson provided a brief history of the Humes meadow and the steps taken to convert this 4-acre area covered with invasive species into a meadow filled with wildlife that now call it home. The afternoon provided opportunities for attendees to visit some of the project sites described during the morning panels. Sites open to the public included Caumsett State Park, Greentree Foundation, Hempstead Plains, Humes Preserve, Shore Road Sanctuary and William Cullen Bryant Preserve. Each of the locations was represented by a project manager to answer questions or provide a tour. The day left participants with a better understanding of the value and beauty of land, and, alas, threats to grasslands here on Long Island and around the world. Attendees learned not only how critical these grassy ecosystems are as wildlife habitat and in preserving quality of life but also the roles individuals can play in building these landscapes. In addition to providing wildlife habitat and aesthetic values, grasslands play a major role in ameliorating climate change impacts. While only a few pockets of grassland remain both here in the U.S. and around the world, grasslands support enormous biodiversity. Grasses’ deep, hairy roots remove carbon from the atmosphere, storing it in a mass of organic matter underground. When grasslands burn, carbon is locked below ground so it does not get released back into the atmosphere. Grasslands grow back quickly after burning. As our symposium attendees learned, individuals can take important steps to do their part, like planting warm-season native grasses, milkweed and other wildflowers. Maintaining grasslands is a wonderful example of how thoughtful stewardship of open space can conserve a critical landscape. It benefits native plants and wildlife while protecting our water supply and providing access to beautiful natural areas for our children and grandchildren. Many thanks to our wonderful partners in this endeavor. Thank You to Our Partnering Organizations Caumsett Foundation Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning & Policy Commission Cornell Cooperative Extension – Suffolk County Dropseed Native Landscapes Friends of Hempstead Plains Greentree Foundation Nassau County Soil & Water Conservation District Nelson Pope Voorhis New York City Butterfly Club New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation North Country Garden Club North Shore Land Alliance Old Westbury Garden Seatuck Environmental Association Sisters of St. Joseph Spadefoot Design and Construction William Cullen Bryant Preserve (Nassau County Museum of Art)
Last year, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Gerry Charitable Trust, the restoration of the historic greenhouse at Wawapek began. This Hitchings and Co. structure was once a small part of a very large complex of greenhouses. It was cleaned up, broken glass was removed and replaced, window frames were repaired and repainted and new planting beds were installed. While the full restoration isn’t yet complete, we couldn’t wait to start putting it to use! This fall, with the help of our volunteers, we’ve been collecting native wildflower and grass seeds from our preserves to propagate in the greenhouse. When collecting native seeds, it is important to remember not to take all the seeds in an area. Native wildlife relies on seeds and berries for their food at this time of year (when there aren’t many insects available to eat). Propagating seeds that will eventually be planted in places that have a winter season requires cold stratification. Stratification is a survival mechanism that ensures that seeds don’t germinate too soon. You may have heard of people putting native seeds in their refrigerator to mimic a cold period. This is the same process. The difference is, we will be leaving the potted seeds outside in the greenhouse instead of in the refrigerator. This will allow them to stratify naturally over the winter in a contained environment where birds cannot feast upon the seeds. The plants that we grow will be used in Land Alliance pollinator gardens and meadows (which include more than 50 acres at this time). Once the restoration of the full greenhouse has been completed, the possibilities are endless. We could expand to grow vegetables or annual flowers for use on our properties. We could host a plant sale and/or expand our growing efforts to other locations like Humes. For now, this is a good start but… as those of you who know us can understand… we dream big! Native Seeds We Are Propagating in the Wawapek Greenhouse False Blue Indigo False Blue Indigo (Baptisia species) is a perennial plant known for its attractive blue-green foliage and striking blue, purple, or white pea-like flowers. It’s a native wildflower that provides nectar for pollinators and is part of the legume family. Common Milkweed Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a native perennial plant that plays a vital role in supporting monarch butterflies as a host plant for their caterpillars. It has clusters of pinkish-purple flowers and produces a milky sap. White Wood Aster White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata) is a native perennial herb with small, daisy-like white flowers. It’s often found in woodland settings and provides nectar for various pollinators. Switch Grass Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum) is a native warm-season grass with attractive, upright foliage that turns a beautiful golden color in the fall. It’s valued for its ornamental qualities and as a habitat for wildlife. Joe-Pye Weed Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium species) is a tall, native wildflower with large, domed clusters of pink to purple flowers. It’s a favorite among pollinators, particularly butterflies and bees. Foxglove Beardtongue Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) is a native wildflower with tubular, white to pale pink flowers and attractive foliage. It’s known for attracting hummingbirds and other pollinators. Little Blue Stem Little Blue Stem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is a native grass species appreciated for its fine, bluish-green foliage and attractive seed heads. It’s a crucial component of prairie ecosystems and provides habitat for wildlife. Anise-Hyssop Anise-Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a fragrant, native perennial herb known for its lavender to blue spikes of flowers. It’s a favorite of pollinators, especially bees and butterflies, and has a sweet, licorice-like scent.
- A Very Big Deal
- Growing Healthy Communities Through Food and Gardening
- Grasslands Symposium Highlights Long Island’s Grassland Restoration Efforts
- Wawapek Greenhouse Restoration and Native Seed Propagation
- Cushman Woods Meadow Transformation
- Restoration of the Williams Preserve
- Sisters of St. Joseph: Estate Planning on a Divine Scale
- Enjoy the Gift of Nature: Explore Land Alliance Preserves
- 2023 Walks in the Woods & Other Cool Things to Do Outside
- A Decade of Service by Friends Academy Students