Summer Festival celebrates Indian Ladder Farms centennial and Land Conservancy’s 25th year

The Altamont Enterprise — H. Rose Schneider

Trees cast shadows on the trail of the Bozen Kill preserve one July evening.

NEW SCOTLAND — The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy will host several events on Sunday, including an afternoon-long Summer Festival at Indian Ladder Farms and a series of “Hike-A-Thons” at a variety of locations in Altamont and New Scotland.

The Summer Festival is a yearly event normally hosted on the Albany Rail Trail, a hiking path which follows former rail lines, but paving on the trail this summer led to the event moving to Indian Ladder Farms in New Scotland, according to Lea Montalto-Rook, Development Director at the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. The move to Indian Ladder Farms corresponds with the farm’s 100-year anniversary, when it began as a dairy farm before eventually becoming the orchard, berry farm, and brewery it is today.

Peter Ten Eyck, third-generation owner of Indian Ladder Farms, said that it had been agreed upon with the Conservancy to host the event several months ago.

According to Montalto-Rook, the Conservancy’s relationship with Indian Ladder Farms goes back to 2003, when the Conservancy, along with the Open Space Institution, helped preserve the farm from development. With a combination of state and private funds, an easement was purchased so the Indian Ladder land would remain forever agricultural.Ten Eyck credits the Conservancy for its help.

“They spearheaded it, along with the Open Spaces Institute,” said Ten Eyck.

Ten Eyck also said the event will honor the fact that this is a fourth-generational farm, handed down from his grandfather, Peter G. Ten Eyck, to his father Peter G. D. Ten Eyck, to himself, Peter G. Ten Eyck II, and to his children, Laura and Peter G. Ten Eyck III. The festival will see an unveiling of a historic road marker at the farm as well, and will also oversee the opening of Indian Ladder Farmstead Brewery and Cidery, operated by Ten Eyck’s son-in-law Dietrich Gehring.

“It’s going to be quite an event,” said Ten Eyck.

The Summer Festival will run from noon to 5 p.m., and will include two guided hiking tours of the farm and its farmlands, as well as live music, hayrides, and samples from the farm’s brewery, according to Conservancy volunteer Kathy Meany. At 12:45 p.m. there will be an aerial photo taken of festival-goers by a drone operated by a professional photographer.

“Hike-A-Thon” at the Bozen Kill

From 1 to 2:30 p.m. there will be a self-guided tour on the trails of the Bozen Kill Preserve, on the corner of Bozenkill and Westfall roads in Altamont, which will include stops at stations where experts on history, geology, or ecology can explain more about certain aspects of the trail. Meany says there is hope to eventually extend the trail further as well as encourage more people to learn about the trail.

The land was originally owned by veterinarian Dr. Milford Becker, whose family sold the land after his death, as he had wished, to the Conservancy, as well as the Open Space Institute and the Nature Conservancy.

As one of the designated docents on the trails tour, Meany will discuss the history of the area, such as the former inhabitants of Iroquois and Algonquin tribes and the Dutch settlers. Meany’s husband, Darwin Roosa, a former science teacher, will explain the geology of the preserve and its stream.

Local artist Thom Breitenbach, who constructed several stone walls in the style of the Dutch settlers, will talk about the old and new stone walls of the preserve and their history. Jacques duMoulin will discuss the significance of logging and trees in the area, Pat Simon will talk about hiking for fitness, Bryan Swift will teach about birds and wildlife in the preserve, and Laurie Swift will discuss native versus invasive plants in the preserve.

Meany described the preserve’s history of serving residents both past and present. Noting a deep pool of water along the stream, she said Altamont residents would ride their bikes to the spot and use it as a swimming hole. Observing several stone walls along the trail, some old and some recreations by Breitenbach, she discussed how Dutch settlers would construct the walls from stones dug up from the soil while farming.

According to Montalto-Rook, there will also be a wheelchair-accessible hike on a portion of the Albany Rail Trail, a hike at Bennett Hill Preserve in Feura Bush, and a hike on the private Margaret Craven Snowden property made accessible to the public for the event.