By Jenni Culkin
A small Centereach farm, about 11 acres in size, is reaching out to the community to raise the funds necessary to continue doing its good work.
The farm has been growing vegetables and other crops to donate to food pantries and people in need since 2007, according to Peter Castorano, one of Bethel Hobbs Community Farm’s caretakers, who lives in the sole house on the property.
“Ann started it all,” said Castorano.
That Ann is Ann Pellegrino.
The Centereach woman discovered the farm, which wasn’t too far from her house, after she sought a place to continue gardening and donating the crops to the poor.
Alfred Hobbs willed the farm to the Bethel AME Church, its owner since 1955. Pellegrino decided to take over the farm’s maintenance, although it is still owned by Bethel Church. She is now the vice president of the farm, which donates tens of thousands of pounds of crops to those in need each year.
The farm has recently experienced an invasion by wild deer, which are eating some of the farm’s crops. The deer eating the crops has significantly lowered the overall productivity of the farm.
“It costs a lot to maintain the farm,” Pellegrino said.
For this reason, an inaugural 4-mile run, which will take place on Saturday, Aug. 22, at 9 a.m., will help raise money for a higher fence to prevent further invasion by the deer population. Advanced registration is $20. In addition, it will cost $5 for children to participate in the Kids Fun Run. There will be awards for runners, music and raffles at the event.
“It’s a really great cause,” Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) said. “Hobbs farm is a hidden jewel in the area.”
According to LaValle, the run has been made official by USA Track & Field. It will be timed and kept track of like any other official race.
“We would like to make this a yearly event,” Pellegrino said.
The inaugural run is not the only way to make a difference.
There are only approximately eight regular volunteers at the farm, including Dottie Meade, Elaine Gaveglia and Jason Castorano. Castorano finds himself fixing the farm equipment and handling the maintenance of heavy machinery, like the tractor. Meade helps out with a plot of land designated to educating young children and helping them learn and grow.
Meade said regular volunteers included the Green Teens from the Middle Country Public Library, volunteers from Long Island colleges like Suffolk County Community College, Stony Brook University and Adelphi University and the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.
“We need volunteers, we need sponsors and we need the word out,” Pellegrino said.