Stevenson Library Digital Collections

History of Farming in Annandale

Hyde Park Post Office Mural: Exchange of Produce for Goods, 1870

 A mural in the Hyde Park Post Office depicting early farming in the Hudson Valley 

American farmers have often been careless of the land. This is intrinsically connected with the westward expansion as farmland waned. But one place on the East coast has a long and continuing history as an agricultural area. The Hudson Valley had rich soil for farming when Europeans arrived and once they moved beyond subsistence farming, it became an agricultural powerhouse.

Using the river as highway, the Hudson Valley farmers began producing food for the population centers south on the river, notably New York City. Shipping barges left the landings all around Annandale-on-Hudson full of grain and other farm goods. Large estates owned by the Livingstons, Donaldsons, Crugers, and Bards maintained farms, often operated by tenant farmers. The Lewis farm was an active independent farm on what is now Bard campus land. 

 

 

Henry Elting's rye fields grain in shock

A field of Rye in Upper Red Hook, Circa 1920. Courtesy of Historic Red Hook. 

The early-19th century saw a dramatic shift in agriculture in the Bard area. Land once coveted by farmers close to the Hudson became European-esque estates, with farming taking a backseat and creating the pastoral place around today’s campus. These estates would lay the groundwork for the architecture and location of Bard. 

The Lewis farm, which had land on what is now both sides of 9G around Campus Road, would eventually only be a farmhouse, surrounded by Bard campus and boys and girls camps. The mid- 20th century saw a fall in farming in the area, as a global economy and cheap shipping became the order of the day. 

This trend would follow until recently when a renewed interest in the Hudson Valley as a food source would breathe new life into the agricultural sector and reveal long-lasting family farms around the Bard area that never left.

History of Farming in Annandale