Steve McMenamin, who’s owned the property with his wife, Ingrid McMenamin, since 1997. The couple had been living in a home on North Street, when they decided they wanted a little land to garden. Steve McMenamin described how Ingrid found this property—originally with just about an acre of land and a house that was ripe to raze.
“We looked at the land and asked, ‘What kind of house does this land want to have on it?’ This is a very historical area,” he noted. For centuries, large swaths of land, what is now the Town of Greenwich, was fertile farmland.
“We were the breadbasket for New York City, from the 1600s to the 1800s,” McMenamin said. “[Farmers] would put their goods on ox carts, roll them down to Cos Cob Harbor, load it onto sailing vessels, and then sailed into New York City.”
“I’ve seen aerial photographs of it from 1929 to 1934, when there were orchards and hay fields. … It’s a very rich agricultural area,” he said.
He studied early New England architecture and the couple decided on a colonial style home that would’ve been common to the region in the 1700s, he explained.
The couple enlisted an architect from Maine, who had experience in antique revival designs, and he brought their vision to life. They built a three-bedroom home, with 3,120 square feet of living space, with traditional finishes, like wainscoting, hardwood floors, built-ins and deep moldings.
The main level has a center hall, with an expansive living room on the right, and a formal dining room and family room to the left. There’s a full bath, and the kitchen sits at the back of the floor plan. The three bedrooms are on the second level, including a primary suite. The home’s lower level has been leveraged for health and fitness, with a home gym, a massage room, sauna and Moroccan hammam.
With just an acre of land when they first settled in, the couple planted raspberries and flowers. They experimented with various vegetable crops to see what the soil would sustain. In 1999, they built the first iteration of the barn, complete with a second-story hayloft.
Over the years, they’ve made improvements to the house. He cited more ergonomic controls, HEPA filtration systems in the spa, solar panels, a rainwater-collection system, and a propane-powered generator as examples.
In 2008, a fateful meal inspired the couple to acquire Versailles, a restaurant on Greenwich Avenue, now known as Bistro V. While operating the restaurant, they discovered that there were few local farmers to supply Greenwich’s growing culinary establishments.
“I was thinking, wait a second. We used to grow food here. Let’s grow food,” he recalled.
And the property got a new name, “Versailles Farm.” Not only did the growing farm supply to the restaurant, they took on other customers, as well. They have four country clubs for which they supply honey and organic produce, like greens and mushrooms. They’ve sold firewood and tapped trees to make maple syrup.
“It became a good old-fashioned New England farm,” he said. “We were taking what the land was willing to give us.”
In 2012, they acquired more land and subsequently merged the lots. Now, they have a total 6.40 acres. They harvest a variety of mushrooms grown in the woodlands. By 2013, they’d opened a popular farm stand.
“The people who come are just wonderful. If you ask me, why do you do this? Well, it’s not so much that I enjoy working in the field for 10 hours a day on 90-degree days. It’s the people who come, and their reaction to the food. It’s incredibly gratifying,” he explained.
In 2017, they improved the rough-hewn white-pine barn, adding a third bay and a washing and packing facility, and they turned the former hayloft into an apartment and separate office.
“We’ve had summer interns who lived there. We’ve had friends who come in from Switzerland and lived here for a while,” he said.
The second-story office is an expansive space. They’ve had as many as four people simultaneously working there.
“This is a farm,” the owner said. “It’s not an easy life. I’m fond of saying that it’s a little like climbing Mount Everest every year. It’s hard work.”
There have been opportunities along the way that the owners have taken a pass on, intentionally keeping their business small. However, he said that the next owner may opt to host special events with local restaurants, garden clubs and nonprofits. They might also choose to participate in regional farmers’ markets.
“Demand exceeds supply for what we’re growing here,” he said. They’ve preferred to keep the farm stand on property. “Because now people can see where their food is grown and how it’s grown. They’re not in a parking lot somewhere just wandering from table to table. Here, they can wander through the fields. They can wander through the woods and see the shitake beds, or wander through the flower gardens and see what 5,000 Zinnias look like.”
Versailles Farm is right across Locust Road from Tamarack Country Club. McMenamin said that he enjoyed breakfasts at the club and having access to its Olympic-size pool.
The couple enjoyed the property’s proximity to Manhattan and to New York airports.
“We want a buyer who wants to continue the tradition, continue to farm and grow food for the community,” the seller said. “The responsibility is to keep the bar high, producing nutrient-dense food, because that’s our reputation.”