The Westchester Land Trust & Lewisboro Land Trust will have the second annual Leon Levy Winter Walk and Environmental symposium over the next two weekends.

Sunday Feb 28: Old Church Lane Preserve in Vista. 1-3 PM. Hot Cider, Coffee, and Home-baked cookies will be waiting for us when we return from an approximate 1-hour walk. Bring your friends and family for this trailside party! From Rte. 35, take Rte. 123 South and turn right onto Kitchawan Road, then left onto Old Church Lane. You will see signs. Park at side of road.

Sunday March 7: Featuring a talk on “How the Greenmarket Saved the Hudson Valley,” with Barry Benepe, co-founder of NYC Greenmarkets. 3pm, Jewish Family Congregation, Rte. 123 (Smith Ridge Road), South Salem

Both events are free and open to the public.

img_8078-webBy Linda Brody
•    The honey we eat is nectar that bees have repeatedly regurgitated and dehydrated. It is a pure product that needs no refrigeration or further processing.

•    In one trip, a honeybee, wings beating at 11,000 cycles per minute, will fly at a speed of 15 mph to visit between 50 and 100 flower blossoms.

•    Bees visit 2 million blossoms to gather four pounds of nectar to produce one pound of honey.

•    To visit 2 million blossoms, bees must fly 55,000 miles, which is equivalent to flying around the world twice.

•    The average hive has from 50,000 to 75,000 honeybees. Each one lives for only six weeks and makes only one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

•    It takes eight pounds of honey, the result of 16 million visits to blossoms, for a bee to produce one pound of beeswax.

•    Each year bees pollinate ninety-five crops worth an estimated $10 billion in the United States alone.

img_8047-the-honey-extractor-copyReprinted from an article in New Canaan-Darien Magazine, by Leslie Chess Feller, May 2007

One Sunday morning in late August, our local apiarist Jim Henry, invited me over to take a look at his hives; the “girls” were still busy, busy, busy.  He had already done the major harvesting of this year’s honey crop the week before, but there were still a few minor chores to attend to.  He showed me his bee-keeping set-up in the basement of their home (where many fascinating historical artifacts of previous Mead family owners are kept), where he extracts the honey from the honeycombs and scrapes the beeswax from the frames, as preparation for the next year’s harvest.  The Henry flower and vegetable gardens as well as a vineyard are all visible from Mead Street; all have a symbiosis with the local hive members, each relying on the other for its very existence.   Susan and Jim engaged in some friendly banter about the pros and cons of vegetable vs. flower gardens while I took some pictures as proof that both were thriving.  Thus far, Jim has not had too much of a problem with CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder); his annual yield is about 75 bottles (guess what everyone in the family gets at Christmas-time….).  Bees range out about 3 miles from the hive, looking for nectar and cross-pollinating in the process.  It’s a continuing challenge to keep a hive healthy and happy, in light of the use of pesticides, parasitic mites and bacteria, environmental pollutants, reduction of open field space, and other stress-inducing factors.  Hmmmm, not dissimilar to us humans…..Next time you see a small busy bee, make her welcome.a-henry-bee-copy

2557077481_58d9eca9da_mBats are an important part of our local ecosystem and a sustainable way to control mosquitoes. Here are some reasons you may want to install a bat house on your property

•    A bat can eat 1,200 mosquitoes an hour. One bat can eat up to it’s full body weight in insects nightly.

•    They also pollinate flowers, and even disperse seeds that help forests grow.

•    Up to 98% of the seeds dropped in cleared areas in tropical rainforests are dispersed by bats, making these animals critical to tropical reforestation efforts.

o    Will attracting bats to bat houses in my yard increase the likelihood that they will move into my attic or wall spaces?
No. If bats liked your attic or wall spaces, they probably would already be living there.

o    Will having bat houses in my yard interfere with attracting birds?
No. They will not compete, either for food or space.

o    What are the odds that a sick bat will endanger my family with rabies?
Fewer than ten people in over 50 years have contracted rabies from North American bat species that commonly live in bat houses. Like all mammals, bats can contract rabies, though very few do (less than half of one percent). Unlike many other animals, even rabid bats rarely become aggressive. They quickly die from the disease, and outbreaks in their colonies are extremely rare.

Installing a bat house on your property is easy. Place on a tree high off the ground, about fifteen feet, where it will get afternoon sun. Because bats like heat, some even recommend painting the bat house black.

You can buy bat houses locally at Wild Birds Unlimited (532 Bedford Rd, Bedford Hills) and Mill River Supply (365 Adams St, Bedford Hills). Order one pre-made here or here.

*factoids from Organization for Bat Conservation and Bat Rescue of Southern California

th_bbapr20vertThe Land Preservation committee has a new focus on sustainability. One thing we’re doing is creating a bluebird trail on the Nature Conservancy land by the lake.

Tis the season to encourage bluebirds to Waccabuc as they return to the area. If you want to put up a bluebird house on your property, it’s easy! Here are some tips from the North American Bluebird Society.

  • Mount on a pole, ideally metal, to make it more difficult for predators to access
  • The house should have a 5″ overhang to, again, deter predators
  • There shouldn’t be a perch (the bluebirds don’t need them)
  • It is imperative that all bluebird nest boxes open readily from the top, side, or front to facilitate box monitoring and cleaning
  • The box opening should also face away from direct sun exposure and away from the wind. They like the open space of a field.

Surf on over to their site for more information. Nest boxes are available for purchase there or locally at Wild Birds Unlimited (532 Bedford Rd, Bedford Hills), Mill River Supply (365 Adams St, Bedford Hills), or Kellogg & Lawrence in Katonah.

Hopefully you’ll be seeing bluebirds in town–and on your property–soon!



Calling All Children, Family & Friends

Please join the Waccabuc Landowners Council and Mr. Big Bunny for the

Saturday, April 11

Hunt Farm Meadow

Waccabuc Earth Fair

In conjunction with the Easter Egg Hunt will be the very first Waccabuc Earth Fair. The Land Preservation committee has embarked on new sustainability initiatives that include:

* providing information on bee keeping with the goal of having three families in town keep bees by 2010. Pollinate flowers! Keep honey!
* installing blue bird houses for a new blue bird trail
* installing bat houses for insect control
* placing a recepticle at the post office for battery recycling
* and encouraging composting.

STOP BY OUR TABLE to learn more

Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the renowned chef, and his wife Marja bought a weekend home in town three years ago. The Wall Street Journal features their home in an article (and slide show and video) describing the tranquility–and inspiration–they find here.

On a recent Saturday, Mr. Vongerichten, a youthful-looking 52-year-old, darted from the pond to the vegetable garden to the guest house, delivering a fast tour of his four-acre plot in his heavy French accent. He nibbled wild watercress from his lawn and talked about his 30,000 bees.

Jean-Georges Goes Country [WSJ]
The big-city chef gathers honey and drives a pickup at his Westchester County retreat

Help the Lewisboro Land Trust and Westchester Land Trust inaugurate the first annual Leon Levy Winter Walk and Environmental Symposium by participating in two great events on the weekend of February 28-March 1.

On Saturday afternoon, February 28, Andrew C. Revkin, the New York Times science reporter, will discuss global warming, sustainability, the news media and land preservation in a talk called “DOT EARTH: 9 Billion People + 1 Planet = ?” at the first Leon Levy Environmental Symposium.

It will be held in the Carriage House of the Waccabuc Country Club, from 4 to 6 p.m.

The next day – Sunday, March 1 – join us at the Leon Levy Preserve for a winter walk through the woods.

Both events are in honor of the late philanthropist Leon Levy. The Winter Walk and Environmental Symposium are being organized by Westchester Land Trust and its local chapter, the Lewisboro Land Trust, and are generously sponsored by the Jerome Levy Foundation, of which Leon Levy was the primary benefactor.

Both are free and open to the public, although seating is limited at the Environmental Symposium and reservations are recommended. For a reservation, email

In addition to Andrew Revkin, the symposium will feature two local experts – Paul Gallagher and Guy Hodges – who will give a brief history of the preserve. Revkin’s talk will follow.

Revkin, who lives in Garrison, has vast experience in covering science and the environment, for the Times and other publications. Here’s his bio:

“One of America’s most honored science writers, Andrew C. Revkin has spent a quarter century providing ground-breaking coverage of subjects ranging from the Asian tsunami to the assault on the Amazon, from the politics of climate to science at the North Pole. He has been an environment reporter for The New York Times since 1995. His coverage of climate change was honored with the John Chancellor Award for sustained journalistic excellence in 2008, and won the inaugural National Academies Communication Award for print journalism, presented by the National Academy of Sciences, the United States’ preeminent scientific body. He has twice won the Science Journalism Award of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and, along with other prizes, has won an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award.

He is a pioneer in multimedia journalism, filing audio, video, and award-winning photography along with his stories from far-flung places. With his Dot Earth blog (, which Time Magazine calls a “must read,” Revkin has become what the magazine says is the “de factor moderator” of the national discourse on global warming.

Revkin has written several books, including The Burning Season, on the murder of Amazon defender Chico Mendes, which was awarded the Sidney Hillman Foundation Book Prize and a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and was made into the HBO film of the same name, which won three Golden Globes and two Emmys. His newest book, and first for younger readers, is The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles and Perils at the Top of the World, on the once and future Arctic. He has a biology degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia. He has taught at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and Bard College.
In scraps of spare time, Mr. Revkin is also a performing songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He accompanies Pete Seeger on occasion at regional shows and performs with his own rural-roots band, Uncle Wade ( He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, who is a science educator, and two sons.”

The Sunday walk of the Leon Levy Preserve will honor Leon Levy and give a nod of thanks to the Lewisboro residents who, in the late 1990s, staged winter walks of the 386-acre tract, known then as the Bell property, as a way to build support for public acquisition.  The Town of Lewisboro bought the property in 2005, with the help of the Jerome Levy Foundation, the Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Foundation, New York City and Westchester Land Trust.

Westchester Land Trust and Lewisboro Land Trust send their sincere thanks to the Jerome Levy Foundation and to Shelby White, whose late husband, Leon Levy, was the foundation’s primary benefactor.

the 2008 tree

The 2nd Annual Waccabuc Tree Lighting  – by Linda Broudy

This lovely event occured on Sunday Dec, 21, 2008 at Edition Farm on Schoolhouse Road.  About 30 bodies, big and small, convened at dusk (4:31 pm to be precise), to ring out the shortest day of the year and ring in the Winter Solstice, as well as celebrate the holiday season.  The barn’s occupants (2 mares, 1 llama, 1 alpaca and a small curly pony) had loads of company with which to share the copious amounts of cookies and hot chocolate, as well as some community carol singing.  Our accompanist on the glockenspiel was Fran Head, who temporarily led us from the barn’s warmth outside to encircle the large evergreen whilst singing ” O Christmas Tree”.  Vivien Malloy, our hostess with the mostess, threw the switch and you can see from the accompanying beautiful photograph, taken by Patrick Brunner, just how beautiful it was.  The small point of light behind the tree (and to its right) was a star rising in the east (well, actually I think it was a planet, but star is so much more evocative, don’t you think?).  I think it proved to be a nice (but cold!) late afternoon respite from the all-too-frequent  nuttiness of the holiday season that sometimes consumes us.  We look forward to doing it again next year.

leaving the barn

Yesterday’s mail brought the Spring 2008 issue of the Westchester Historian, the journal of the Westchester County Historical Society, and we were excited to see that the issue bore the title, “Stewards of the Land: The Meads of Waccabuc.”

Susan Henry, a seventh generation member of the Meads of Waccabuc family, was a founder of Westchester Land Trust and is still the secretary of our Board of Directors and chair of the Lewisboro Land Trust, one of our chapters.

The piece, written by Field Horne, a historian who lives in upstate Washington County, is long and we’ve just started reading it, but it’s filled with great details. Horne was hired by the county historical society to organize and catalogue the Mead family papers, and then write about what he learned. In particular we were struck by this, from the introduction:

“And what a story it is! Contained within the 171 boxes and 281 bound volumes are tales of agriculture’s development and decline, men’s roles and women’s growing independence, suburbanization and environmentalism, politics and war. During the long task of cataloguing, in which every item was examined, it became evident that the Meads’ love of the beautiful landscape that is Waccabuc is the most thoroughly documented aspect of their history….”

Here’s the historical society’s website: You can contact them to get a copy of “The Meads of Waccabuc” issue.

by Tom Andersen, from the Westchester Land Trust website blog

The 2008 Spring issue of The Westchester Historian


Sunday, July 13th at Mead Memorial Chapel, Waccabuc, at 4:00 PM

Hear the AMAZING ANTIOCH BAPTIST CHOIR perform at the Mead Chapel
with a wine & cheese reception on the lawn following the concert

Tickets: $60


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