Zenda Farm Preserve and the LoisJean & John MacFarlane Trail
Zenda was a dairy and beef farm that operated through the 1950s. Now, its agricultural history is preserved for future generations to discover and its pastures and hay meadows are preserved for nesting grassland birds.
Northern New York hosts some of the highest quality habitat for grassland birds in the northeastern United States. Many of these species are in serious decline in eastern North America, so keeping the meadows open is an integral part of Zenda’s management plan.
We are regularly asked where Zenda got its name. Its original owner, James Hackett, was an actor in the early 20th Century. His favorite role was the title character in the 1913 film The Prisoner of Zenda. Hackett, whose mother was born on Wolfe Island, built the original house and boathouse and loved to visit the property.
In 1939, Merle Youngs purchased the property. The Youngs Rubber Company manufactured condoms among other things. Mr. Youngs slowly acquired neighboring farms and created a large state-of-the-art dairy and beef farm. He implemented new management techniques and new equipment: this was the site of the first automatic bottling plant in the area.
Zenda is now the site of the annual Community Picnic at the beginning of the Summer season. It is also a favorite spot for plein air painting. A local farmer grazes cows on the pastures and cuts the hay from the meadows. The mowing takes place after August 1st to allow nesting grassland birds to fledge their young.
The Zenda Community Garden provides fresh, locally grown produce for participating families. Gardeners select plants, prepare the garden, weed and harvest, and then take home a share of the produce.
A new trail around the perimeter of the meadows was completed in 2011. Named for Zenda Farm donors & benefactors, the LoisJean and John MacFarlane Trail is a non-motorized trail for hiking & cross-country skiing.
TILT's management plan for the future of Zenda Farm is to establish the preserve as a model for land conservation through community involvement and learning within its ecologically diverse and culturally historic farm setting.