BEDFORD, N.Y. -- More than 300 guests gathered at the iconic Sunnyfield Farm in Bedford recently for dinner, dancing and a lively auction, to celebrate the Westchester Land Trust's continued conservation efforts in the region.
WLT welcomed an exciting mix of supporters — both long-standing and brand new -- who joined together in honoring Vivien Malloy with the 2016 Preservation Angel Award and the Zofnass family with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award.
A resident of Waccabuc, Malloy is an internationally acclaimed breeder of thoroughbred racehorses and the owner of Edition Farm in Hyde Park. As a horsewoman, Malloy has explored the extensive network of riding trails that crisscross Westchester County and has a unique awareness of the urgent need to protect open space.
She is a loyal champion of the WLT, having served on its board of directors. The event's title, "Our Land Is Your Land," was an apt reminder of WLT's commitment to land protection, as well as the powerful public benefit provided by open space.
Paul Zofnass and Renée Ring -- along with their entire family -- had explored the rocky woods behind their Pound Ridge Home for years, and they were determined to see them preserved in their natural state forever.
The Zofnass family worked for over a decade to create the preserve that now bears its name. The Westchester Wilderness Walk/Zofnass Family Preserve contains 150 acres and extensive trails. It is open to the public year round at no cost and is enjoyed by thousands of hikers annually.
Ring quoted Abraham Lincoln in a tribute to her husband, Paul. "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him."
Watson's Catering of Greenwich, Connecticut, devised a vibrant menu, featuring the early-season bounty of several local farms and producers, many of whom are participants in WLT's Farmland Match program, which connects landless farmers with area landowners who wish to see their land put into agricultural production.
"Thanks to the generosity of event hosts, Joanne Nielsen and the Nielsen family, the sailcloth tented hilltop event was ringed with magnificent interior views of Sunnyfield Farm -- an iconic working horse farm and equestrian facility that is one of the most beloved sights in all of Bedford," organizers noted.
A new educational video about WLT, also titled "Our Land Is Your Land," was premiered for the first time for the guests. You can watch it here.
Several leaders from the conservation community also attended, from the Putnam County Land Trust, Pound Ridge Land Conservancy, Westmoreland Sanctuary, Groundwork Hudson Valley and the Trust for Public Land, as well as WLT's 2015 Preservation Angel Award recipient, Benjamin Needell.
"Virtually all of the successes of the Westchester Land Trust belongs to our guests here tonight and to others like them -- the conservation easement and land donors, the young farmers, enthusiastic volunteers, advocates for public investment in land, even our supporters who care for their land in an environmentally conscientious way," said Jonathan Wiesner, WLT board chairman.
Funds raised through this annual benefit support WLT's efforts to protect environmentally significant land and to manage the 29 public preserves it owns. For more info about WLT, call 914-234-6992 or visit its website.