The Queens County Farm Museum, at Little Neck Parkway south of 73rd Road, occupies 47 acres in the heart of Glen Oaks, Queens, New York as the Agricultural Museum of New York: its croplands and orchards are being used to demonstrate the history of agriculture to students and visitors. The Museum staff and volunteers harvest apples and grow herbs, squash, tomatoes and other standard market vegetables, which are sold from a farm stand on the grounds on selected days during the week.
The Farm Museum holds educational tours and student workshops cover horticultural technology, farm life history and food preparation. You will find friendly cows, goats and sheep begging for handouts, which are provided to you, although there are signs telling you what not to feed them (as fruit tends to ferment in the ruminants’ multiple stomachs). The Museum is the staging area for several annual events, such old-fashioned county fairs, an annual Native American pow-wow and an antique car show. Consult the Museum’s events calendar for details.
The tract has been farmed for over 300 years. Earliest records show it being sold by John Harrison to Elbert Adriance in 1697; the farm stayed in the Adriance family until the early 1800s, and Elbert’s son Jacob constructed the present farmhouse in 1772.
The farm continued to thrive under the ownership of the Peter Cox family, who expanded the farmhouse to its current size, from 1833 to 1892. That year, Daniel Stattle purchased the 101-acre site from the Coxes for $20,000. By 1926, the State of New York had acquired the farm and used it to complete the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, and the grounds were tilled in part by patients, for therapeutic purposes, for many years. In 1976 the farmhouse was designated by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, and by 1982 the farm had come under the aegis of the New York City Department of Parks. Today it is managed by the Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society of Bellerose.
The Jacob Adrience farmhouse was restored in 1986 to resemble its condition in 1856, when the Cox family last expanded it. Inside, you will find original plank floors, beamed ceilings, window glass and hardware. Of all of New York’s remaining 18th century buildings, this one may retain more of its original materials than the others.
Other farm buildings were all constructed after 1927 and include three greenhouses and a connecting potting shed, a wagon shed, two barns, garages and a brooder house.
A particular annual favorite is the Museum’s two Tavern Nights, held in November. Servers in period dress serve Revolutionary-era recipes by candlelight. Best to make your reservation now — these nights tend to be booked early. Also, oddly enough, the Farm Museum is popular for wedding receptions and photo opportunities.
Contact the Museum at (718) 347-3276, or consult the Queens Farm website.
Kevin Walsh is the webmaster of forgotten-ny.com, and recently published Forgotten Queens with the Greater Astoria Historical Society.