Zenda Farms Preserve

Offering many opportunities for the community to celebrate open space and connect with the agricultural heritage of the region.

Directions to the Preserve, 38973 Zenda Road, Clayton, NY: From Clayton, take State Route 12E west toward Cape Vincent. Travel 1.3 miles from the stop light and turn right (north) onto Zenda Road. The first left is the drive into the Farm. Just past that left is a parking area for the Lois Jean and John MacFarlane Trail, which is on the right of Zenda Road.

Zenda Farms

Zenda was a dairy and beef farm that operated through the 1950s. Now, its agricultural history is preserved for future generations to discover and its pastures and hay meadows are conserved for nesting grassland birds.

Northern New York hosts some of the highest quality habitat for grassland birds in the northeastern United States. Many of these species are in serious decline in eastern North America, so keeping the meadows open is an integral part of Zenda’s management plan. 

The house and boathouse were built by Martha Reed Mitchell. She sold the property to James Hackett, a native of Wolfe Island who was an actor in the early 20th Century. He named the property after his favorite role, the title character in the 1913 film The Prisoner of Zenda. 

In 1939, Merle Youngs purchased the property. Mr. Youngs, an entrepreneur who owned the Youngs Rubber Company, slowly acquired neighboring farms and created a large state-of-the-art dairy and beef farm. He implemented new management techniques and new equipment: this was the site of the first automatic bottling plant in the region.

Zenda is now the home of the annual Community Picnic at the beginning of the summer season, as well as numerous TILTreks, KidsTreks and often, TILTKids Camp. A local farmer grazes cows on the pastures and cuts the hay from the meadows. The mowing takes place after August 1st to allow nesting grassland birds to fledge their young.

TILT's management plan for the future of Zenda Farms is to establish the Preserve as a model for land conservation through community involvement and learning within its ecologically diverse and culturally historic farm setting.

Volunteers can help TILT's conservation work on one of the two annual Preserve Stewardship Days, or become trained as a Preserve Stewardship Volunteer and help TILT monitor the health of the preserve!

Zenda Community Garden, Kids Korner Garden and Natural Play Area

The Zenda Community Garden provides fresh, locally grown produce for participating families. Gardeners select plants, prepare the garden, weed and harvest, and then take home a share of the produce. In 2013 an adjacent Kids Korner Garden and Natural Play Area were added - both open to the public!

The Lois Jean and John MacFarlane Trail

A trail around the perimeter of the meadows was completed in 2011. Named for Zenda's donors & benefactors, the Lois Jean and John MacFarlane Trail is a low-impact, 1.5-mile-long trail for jogging, hiking and cross-country skiing. The trail surrounds one of the grasslands conserved for nesting birds, so please, keep your dog on a leash until after the nesting season is complete!

Click here for the Zenda Farms Preserve map and MacFarlane Trail guide.

Related Projects

  • Management practices keep grasslands open.

    Management for Grassland Birds

    Grasslands are among the most threatened habitats in the Northeast. Managing grasslands is essential for the survival of some neotropical, migratory songbird species.

  • Opening up grasslands on Grenadier Island

    Habitat Management & Restoration

    Stewardship involves maintenance and/or restoration of essential habitats, per a preserve's individual management plan.

  • Suspension bridge at Otter Creek under construction

    Trail Construction & Maintenance

    The Land Trust currently owns and manages over 40 miles of multi-use recreational trails throughout the greater Thousand Islands region. These rustic trails open the door to TILT’s Signature Preserves and are accessible to the public year around, providing individuals with unique outdoor experiences across a variety of landscapes.

  • Mowing takes place on a three-year rotation to control the growth of brush.

    Grassland Management

    Grasslands are managed for wildlife species habitat through mowing and clearing.

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