Suffolk County Farm Education + Visitor Center

In 2016, Suffolk County DPW retained BBS to “re-imagine” the southern portion of the Suffolk County Farm property in Yaphank NY, and to develop a new design for a new Suffolk County Farm Education & Visitor Center. Based on County specifications, the new Center was designed as a “green” facility utilizing energy savings and sustainable design as a model laboratory for educating students and visitors on the subject. BBS designed the new structure to blend in with its surroundings, having the appearance of a 2-story barn of approximately 4,800 SF.

The new Suffolk County Farm Education & Visitor Center includes a full basement, main floor and second floor with an option of a connecting breezeway to the adjacent house. The basement will be utilized for storage, mechanical space, and as a technology center. The ground floor features the main reception area with (2) cubicle offices, an exhibit space for interactive displays and signage focusing on local agriculture and tourism, storage closets, public restrooms, an animal examination room, and a covered animal exhibit area with a large classroom. The upper floor includes an office space for up to (20) people, a conference room, break room with kitchenette, workspace stations, storage areas, and staff restrooms.

As the location of all new programs, the proposed building is intended to become an initial point of every visit to the Suffolk County Farm. To assist the visitors with navigating the site, the Center will offer an interpretive displays and interactive exhibits to provide the initial introduction to the property, giving a deeper understanding of the site’s purpose and a century-long history, including its symbiotic relationship with the nearby Suffolk County Correctional Facility. The visitors will be able to experience farm life on Long Island first-hand.

The essential portion of the project was dedicated to educational and interpretive aspects of the farm building itself, providing a display and exhibit area in the Visitor Center lobby. The design team developed various hands-on exhibits and engaging graphics covering a wide range of topics such relevant to Long Island agrotourism, the Suffolk County Farm property, green building features, farm animal care, etc. A curriculum of interpretive programs was developed by the Eastern Suffolk BOCES to facilitate the educational mission and goals of the new Center.

In conjunction with the indoor exhibit area, the site plan improvements provided for several outdoor program areas directly relating to the indoors. These areas showcase a wide range of curriculum topics including, for example, ins and outs of a self-sustainable farm, a community garden to educate about growing own foods, a sheltered farmers market, nature play and education area, organic vineyard, a paved map of Long Island (highlighting local agriculture and wine producing destinations), and changing or seasonal display areas.

As a project alternate, the master plan presented options for relocating the existing animal yard and petting zoo to the vicinity of the proposed Center. The new location would not only allow for a full “immersion” into farm life and interaction with the livestock but would also allow for direct access to the Center’s animal care quarters located in the building.