Article and video by Erika Paulson
In Queens County in 1840, 20.24 percent of the population was employed in agriculture, according to the national census. Currently, barely 1/10 of 1 percent of the county’s population work in the field, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Along a stretch of the Little Neck Parkway sits the Queens County Farm Museum, the last working farm in the area.
The 47 acres of land that make up the Queens County Farm Museum have been continuously tilled and harvested since 1697. Signs across the property attest to the fact that it is the oldest remaining working farm in New York State, and long-time employees will proudly confirm that fact when asked. Marty Jackel, an employee of 20 years who conducts tours of the historic Adriance farmhouse, has often reiterated, “This is a working farm, not a petting zoo.”
In its 300-year history, the farm has changed hands multiple times. Among its most notable owners are Jacob and Catherine Adriance, a childless couple who in 1772 built the farmhouse that still stands today. In the 1920s, Daniel Stattel transformed the farm into a valuable property by using it for market gardening instead of subsistence farming. The Stattel family later sold the land to Pauline Reisman, who likely helped save the farm from development by reselling it to Creedmoor State Hospital, a psychiatric facility. Creedmoor used the farm to provide its patients with therapy and horticultural rehabilitation, and was the last entity to own the farm before it became a museum. The farm is now a property of the New York City Department of Parks and has been landmarked, an effort put forth by State Senator Frank Padavan and James A. Tren, the Queens County Farm Museum’s founder and president.
When the farm first opened as a museum in 1975, it was open only for two hours a week. Now, it is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, except major holidays. No entrance fee is charged, except on event days.
More than 7,000 people attend each of the farm’s 14 annual events, which include fairs, antique motorcycle shows, a haunted house, a corn maze and a three-day Native American powwow. According to Jackel, as many as 300 to 500 schoolchildren come to the farm on field trips.
The farm sells its own products in its gift shop, including honey, eggs and potted plants. Between early summer and mid-fall, fresh produce is available at a farm stand.