Greenwich Country Day School Acquires 110-Year-Old Historic French Farm

Greenwich Country Day School (GCDS) Headmaster Adam Rohdie announced on Monday the school’s acquisition of French Farm, a four-acre 110-year-old historic farm on Lake Avenue in Greenwich.

The first Greenwich property to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, French Farm’s main house and farm buildings were designed by H. Van Buren Magonigle and built in 1906 for owner Mary Billings French, an heiress and society figure who served as president of the YWCA.

Subsequent owner David R. A. Wierdsma, a GCDS graduate, who inherited the farm his parents, stewarded the farm for 40 years. He created gardens with over 100 plant species and installed collections of sculptures, fossils, petrified wood, and geodes, along with site-specific installations such as a stone “pterodactyl tower.”

Wierdsma, who was an art collector and horticulturalist, preserved the working aspects of the farm while adding extensive botanical gardens, artifacts, sculpture, and minerals throughout the property.

The farm features sheep, chickens, peacocks, herb and vegetable gardens, barns, workshops, and a greenhouse, along with its art and botanical collections. Together, they provide joyful and engaging learning opportunities for students.

“French Farm is a magical place, and nature is a master teacher,” said Headmaster Adam Rohdie. “French Farm will engage students in caring for our world and building community. We are excited about the possibilities and committed to being good stewards of the Farm’s past and
its future.”

Recently, GCDS pre-kindergarten classes visited the Farm. They learned about caring for farm animals and had the opportunity to interact with the chickens and sheep. Surprised by how gentle the animals were and full of questions, the children showed how eager they are to be good stewards of the Farm.

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The Farm provides interdisciplinary educational opportunities for all grade levels. Current initiatives include planting and growing food for GCDS cafeterias using GCDS food scraps for compost, producing organic eggs, learning greenhouse science and hydroponics to renovate the greenhouse and cold frames for use in food production. Future projects include working with the sheep’s wool, raising chickens for egg production, and rebuilding the sheep house.

In a release GCDS said the school is pleased to be able to provide housing for faculty members at French Farm, in the property’s main house, greenhouse apartment, and cottage.