Gardening

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Recently, Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (right) presented a compost tumbler to Diane Enright (center) from Port Jefferson Station, one of six winners of the “Brookhaven Recycles Day” Compost Tumbler Giveaway. Pictured at left is Town of Brookhaven Recycling Educator, Zachary Sicardi.

The online contest was held on Facebook with a winner selected from each Town Council District. For more information about recycling in the Town of Brookhaven, visit www.BrookhavenNY.gov .

Through Supervisor Ed Romaine’s Green Energy and Sustainability Initiative, the Town has been “greening-up” its operations and facilities while saving taxpayer money by utilizing new, and more energy efficient technologies and renewable energy sources. All these efforts lower operation costs and reduce Town carbon emissions. By encouraging waste diversion through recycling and composting, the Town can further realize spending and emissions reductions.

Reviewed by John Turner 

We humans have done a pretty good job at mucking up the planet, scraping away the planet’s skin for minerals and timber, farms and ranches, not to mention the type of development that characterizes so much of Long Island — shopping centers, industrial parks, and residences. These impacted places, especially the first few, lend themselves well to rewilding to restore the natural, living fabric that was once there.  

You might reasonably ask “What is rewilding?” not to mention what wilding means. As we learn in The Book of Wilding: A Practical Guide to Rewilding Big and Small (Bloomsbury Publishing  PLC) by Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell, it is a form of ecological restoration (to restore to the wild condition). What separates it from typical ecological restoration efforts, however, is that the rewilder may not try to restore exactly what was once there or definitively know what species end up colonizing a rewilded site. In this regard rewilding falls in between active, intense hands-on ecological manipulation and non-intervention or just letting “nature take its course.” 

The concept of rewilding developed in the late 20th century when several conservationists offered a vision of North America, rewilded through the implementation of three “C’s” as guiding principles — cores, connectors, and carnivores. Cores involve the expansion of national parks and other public spaces; connectors involve land protection work to connect these expanded public spaces so wildlife can move between sites to promote genetic health among species through genetic exchange and as a hedge again local extirpation in one area; and, lastly, carnivores means the introduction of predators such as wolves, bears, etc. where possible, recognizing the critical role they play in maintain the health of ecosystems.

In Europe, where there are not the expansive wilderness areas like those found in North America, rewilding has taken on a slightly different definition or tone. Here it is viewed as “kickstarting the ecosystem” or as the authors state: “Putting nature back in the driver’s seat.” They do this by restoring rivers and wetlands by restoring their hydrology, promoting keystone species (species that play a disproportionate role in maintaining the stability of a natural community just as a keystone in an arch keeps an entire arch intact), reintroducing missing species (or if they cannot be reintroduced due to extirpation introduction of surrogate species that behave in a similar way ecologically) and implementing strategies to promote biodiversity, which as its name suggests is the full suite of living things in a specific area.       

We learn this and so many other things in this rewilding guide. And what a guide it is, all 559 pages worth, providing both breadth and depth on insights, principles, ideas, and strategies on rewilding. It is easy to get intimidated by this book given its level of detail and the sheer amount of information it contains. However, it is written in a clear and straightforward style, the authors recounting years of experience in their effort to rewild  a 3,500 acre estate in West Sussex, Great Britain. 

The book is a “how to guide,” covering all the elements necessary to make places that have been compromised once again ecologically diverse and stable, thereby providing the numerous benefits in the form of goods and services intact wild areas provide (e.g. clean water and air, soil creation, timber and wild food production). 

While some chapters on wilding have limited applicability to Long Island or New York State, such as introducing large herbivores, a number of chapters in the book have specific relevance to Long Island.

One such chapter is the discussion on “rewilding water.” As the authors note,  wetlands — rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, bogs, marshes etc.  — cover a tiny percentage of the Earth’s  surface, estimated to be about 1 to 2%, but contain habitat for 10% of  all animal species and 30% of all vertebrate species. It is clear: wetlands are important from an ecological and biodiversity perspective. 

What are the elements of rewilding a wetland, say, a stream? 

◆ Restore naturally meandering, S-shape channels in the waterway if previously straightened (so many streams and rivers have been in an effort to carry water away); 

◆ Revegetate the banks to eliminate erosion and plant trees along the banks to create shade that create cooler water conditions conducive for fish like trout (the authors recommend 50% of the water surface be shaded);

◆ Leave tree trunks and branches that have fallen in the stream since they provide hiding places for aquatic wildlife; 

◆ Create pools in the stream bed so water remains for invertebrates and fish during low water periods and create gravel bars that provide microhabitat for invertebrates; 

“Daylighting” streams by unburying them and removing structural conduits; and

◆ Removing weirs, dams and other impediments to the movement of fish and other aquatic animals.  

This last recommendation has special relevance to Long Island as the overwhelming number of streams contain obstacles from past road and railroad construction and placement of grist mills. Dam removal would immediately help a number of species such as river herring and American eel. 

The book makes similar constructive recommendations relating to other rewilding elements such as vegetation and with animals. A section entitled “Rewilding Your Garden — Applying rewilding principles in a small place” may be of special interest to homeowners. It contains great tips on how to make the surroundings around a home more diverse and environmentally friendly, not to mention beautiful.  

Each chapter has an introduction and then for ease of reading has distinguishing green colored pages which highlight a separate but related section providing informative specifics of the rewilding effort; these are called “Putting It Into Practice”. This approach is useful in distinguishing theoretical and scientific underpinnings of rewilding from the practical steps needed to achieve the desired rewilding element.  

Underpinning this book is an optimistic perspective that with careful, sensitive and appropriate human intervention, nature can heal itself, if given half a chance. 

As the book makes clear, if the ideas, strategies, and recommendations flowing from rewilding principles are implemented in your backyard garden, neighborhood park, or on a much larger scale knitting together national parks, the natural world will be a more healthy, diverse, richer and beautiful place.  

The Book of Wilding: A Practical Guide to Rewilding Big and Small is available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk staff and volunteers are joined by government leaders and National Grid officials in front of the new Suffolk County Farm Visitor Center and interactive walkway. Photo from Suffolk County Farm

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk (CCE Suffolk) held the unveiling of a new, interactive walkway at its 272-acre Suffolk County Farmand Educational Center in Yaphank as well as the announcement of a new visitor center. The walkway was funded by National Grid.

Designed with multiple, life-size elements designed for visitor engagement, the walkway features a series of stations that highlight CCE Suffolk’s wide range of program areas. Among the disciplines showcased are agriculture, marine science, gardening and horticulture, camping, life skills education, and family wellness.

The Suffolk County Farm is a working farm that offers hands-on, research-based learning within a year-round, educational environment. It hosts 100,000 visitors each year, 20,000 of whom are schoolchildren.

The farm is also home to unique educational programs for children ranging from pre-K to 12th grade, summer day camps, a nature-based preschool, and special events, among many other offerings. Its 1871 Haybarn is listed on the National Historic Registry.

According to a 2019 report by the state comptroller’s office, Suffolk County ranked fourth among the state’s 62 counties in agricultural sales. The county’s 560 farms generated $225.6 million in sales.

State Senator Dean Murray, State Assemblyman Joe DeStefano, and County Legislators James Mazzarella, Sarah Anker, Nick Caracappa, Sam Gonzalez, and Jason Richberg were among the elected officials participating in today’s event.

“Thanks to National Grid, the Suffolk County Farm now features a dynamic, new walkway providing an immersive experience that captures the essence of CCE’s multifaceted programs,” said Vanessa Lockel, Executive Director of CCE Suffolk. “The visitor center and walkway will together help the farm carry on its tradition of community learning that dates back more than a century.”

“We’re proud to partner with CCE Suffolk to create an interactive walkway that’s designed to educate and inspire visitors to the Suffolk County Farm,” said Kathy Wisnewski, Director of Customer and Community Engagement at National Grid. “Community learning is deeply aligned with National Grid’s values, and we’re delighted to contribute to an initiative that broadens public understanding of such critical subjects as sustainability, history, and science.”

“The new walkway is far more than an entry point into this remarkable farm,” said Sonia Spar, President of the CCE Suffolk Board of Directors. “It’s truly an educational journey in itself. Visitors will enjoy a holistic experience that enables them to appreciate the extraordinary breadth of CCE Suffolk’s offerings in a personal way.”

“While I regret not being able to attend today’s ceremony in person, I support the innovative initiatives undertaken by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk at the Suffolk County Farm,” commented Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “The interactive walkway emphasizes that the farm is not just a place to visit; it’s a learning hub that exemplifies the rich agricultural heritage and forward-thinking sustainability efforts of our county.”

“Visited by tens of thousands of people each year, the Suffolk County Farm is one of Suffolk’s true gems,” said County Legislator James Mazzarella. “National Grid deserves praise for underwriting a beautiful new walkway that stands as a testament to CCE Suffolk‘s ambitious program of community outreach and education.”

“The Suffolk County Farm is emblematic of the leadership role that this county plays in New York State’s agricultural sector,” said Rob Carpenter, Director of the Long Island Farm Bureau. “Its far-reaching educational agenda deepens Long Islanders’ understanding of the world of agriculture. We applaud CCE Suffolk and National Grid for the tremendous work they’ve done here.”

Farm manager Annalee Holmdahl at Birdsfoot Farm. Photo by Leah Chiappino/TBR News Media

By Leah Chiappino 

Nestled off of Shep Jones Lane in Head of the Harbor, is Avalon Nature Preserve’s newest addition: Birdsfoot Farm.

Increasingly known to locals for its Saturday farmstand, with offerings that include whole chickens, as well as farm-grown flowers and vegetables, its main mission, consistent with the preserve, is to restore the farm’s land to its natural ecosystem.

“I wanted to use animals in the transformation of this land,” Annalee Holmdahl, the farm’s manager, said.

Flowers growing at Birdsfoot Farm. Photo by Leah Chiappino/TBR News Media

The farm was purchased by the preserve in 2018. Its land has been under the Suffolk County Farmland Preservation Act since the 80s, which mandates it be used for agricultural purposes, explained Avalon’s Executive Director, Katharine Griffiths.

“The property had been on our radar for a while,” she said, noting it is adjacent to Avalon.

Farming wasn’t on Griffiths’ radar until Birdsfoot’s land came along, and Avalon was mandated to conform to the terms of its deed.

“We had to shift and come up with a plan and a farming strategy that met our mandate and also fit our philosophy to protect, restore, inspire,” she said. “It fits in that. It’s not exactly what we’ve done historically, but I think what we’re doing on the farm fits that philosophy.”

It wasn’t until July of 2022 that the farmstand was  able to open on Saturdays. In developing the farm, they started with bees and then acquired egg-laying birds. Once Holmdahl, who lives on the property with her Rough Collie, Maisy, got on board, in February of 2022, they brought sheep and goats in, and developed the hoop houses on the property, along with the flower and vegetable gardens.

“We did not want to do too much because we didn’t have a lot of manpower, but just started to dabble and just see what sort of response we were getting,” said Griffiths.

The farm has only a few full-time staff. Holmdahl focuses on the garden and planning projects for the farm. 

Holmdahl earned a degree in Neuroscience and made her way around the country farming. A native of Washington state, she started farming in California, with a focus on goat, sheep, and dairy farming, before moving on to vegetable farming in Montana, and livestock farming in Georgia and in upstate New York. Then, she landed at Birdsfoot. Living on the property “feels necessary,” Holmdahl said. A few additional farmhands work part-time.

Turkey are just one of the animals that live at Birdsfoot Farm.
Photo by Leah Chiappino/TBR News Media

“Every once in a while, in the morning you wake up and you hear the sheep and you’re like that’s the wrong direction, they’re not where they’re supposed to be,” she joked. It’s a 24/7 job for Holmdahl. “I make sure I get away a little bit,” she said.

Livestock Manager Ryan Lertora cares for the animals. 

In staying true to its mission, the farm tries to use its animals however it can. Its Southdown babydoll sheep eat the grass, its Spanish goats eat underbrush along the hedgerows, and its vegetables are often snacks for the chickens. The breed of goats was selected specifically because they are known for land clearing, up to six feet, of brush, and the sheep, who are often used in vineyards and orchards were picked for their grazing abilities as well as the fact that they can’t reach the produce due to their small size. 

The farm’s 13 goats have been moving down the hedgerows of the Birdsfoot’s pasture since they came outside in the Spring. In the winter, they stayed in the hoop houses. They are only female, and as such have no partners to produce milk. They are surrounded by a temporary electric fence to keep them from wandering. Simplicity is key to having the goats maximize their benefit to the land, Lertora said. “Part of the way to use the animal to their best is to keep them in a smallish area and concentrate on their purpose and then move them along,” he added

While there are other ways to clear the brush, the goats offer unique results. “There are definitely faster ways of clearing brush obviously, people and mechanical means, but it is nice to use the goats,” Holmdahl said. “They kind of can do a preliminary clean first where we can see what’s really in there.”

Sheep graze in the meadow at Birdsfoot Farm. Photo by Leah Chiappino/TBR News Media

The livestock, which also includes both meat and laying hens, as well as turkeys, also frequently rotate their locations in the pasture. While surrounded by the same temporary electric fences to keep them from wandering,  they can follow their natural behavior. The meat and laying hens are in separate sections of the farm. The laying hens share their space with two roosters, and despite the uptick in local roosters needing homes, it’s difficult to acclimate more into the flock. They along with the turkeys have freshly built coops in the pasture. 

The farm doesn’t have quite enough turkeys to sell, so last year they gave them all to Avalon staff, for Thanksgiving. 

Despite the animals giving back to the land, and the land giving back to the animals, the work to care for them is still substantial, said Lertora. “It might be misleading because there’s mostly open empty space here,” he said. “But it turns out that it’s quite a bit of work for everybody, collecting eggs, giving everybody the right amount of feed and then moving them to pasture,” he said.

The sheep have also been sheared, though the wool needs to be sent to a mill after the farm decides on what its final project will be. Holmdahl wants to eventually train Maisy, who was purchased for the farm from a breeder in Pennsylvania, to formally herd the sheep. They also graze without damaging the grass.

“They rip what they’re eating,” said Holmdahl. “They don’t bite the way we bite. But it’s actually really good for the grass that it’s not being bitten.”

The rotational grazing allows goats and sheep  to experience new foods and helps prevent them from overindulging. It also helps restore the soil, which is in poor condition on the property, by increasing its carbon levels.  The animal’s benefits feed off each other. When the sheep eat the top of the grass and put down manure, it gives the poultry the opportunity to distribute the manure, and spread it throughout the pasture, transplanting the carbon into the soil.

“We’re working very hard to restore the soils on the property that are quite poor,”  Griffiths said “So, the animals are a nice way for us to do pasture maintenance and help improve our organic matter.”

Goats at Birdsfoot Farm. Photo by Leah Chiappino/TBR News Media

The improvement in soil health won’t just be shown by tests, but rather by the farm’s ecological health such as the numbers of different wildlife, products, and plants on the farm, said Holmdahl.

Rescue Jumbo Pekin Ducks also call the farm home, though they stay more stationary due to needing protection from predators, and occasionally lay eggs. They also have golden-layer ducks that do lay eggs.

“It’s slowed down significantly recently,” Holmdahl said. “I think it’s because of the hot weather or they’re old or they’re laying their eggs and we can’t find them.”

On the farm they also practice cover cropping, covering soil when not in use, and low-till farming, as well as using compost and rotting plants. The garden products include eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers,  peppers, carrots, berries, and farm-fresh flowers. The flowers make up a large portion of the farm’s inventory, and Holmdahl tries to grow good pollinators. They have ramped up production of vegetables, like squashes and kale, and lettuces, with the goal of donating the excess. Local churches, through Island Harvest, are able to pick up a cooler of the vegetables each week. 

The challenge growing vegetables on the property, Holmdahl said, is that while the farm is a large chunk of land, the garden is “barely a third of an acre.” She loves growing tomatoes, a huge part of her background, she said, and they have been successful on the farm. Other products took trial and error.

“We did hot peppers last year and this year we’re trying sweet peppers, which have varying degrees of success,” she said. “We tried watermelons this year. They didn’t do so well…I try to focus on the things that I can get a lot out of in this area.”  

Holmdahl has tried to grow some pumpkins for the fall, but is limited due to the space. So, products like lettuce, which can grow in succession, are the most practical.

The poor soil health has also been a challenge, Holmdahl said. “You see it when you have a lot of bug damage because the soil isn’t actually healthy enough to keep the plants healthy,” she added.

The decline in soil quality is due to the fact the land hasn’t been farmed consistently since the 80s, Holmdahl said, so nothing was really being done to keep up its quality.

“We’re lucky because overall the quality of soil on Long Island is great,” Holmdahl said. “So there’s total potential. By planting things and adding more compost and trying to do the best we can with what we have, and then adding soil when necessary, hopefully, we can get the quality up and we can also cultivate a good environment where beneficial bugs are around and that will help everything.”

Additional projects are ahead. Honey is going to begin to be sold, and restoration of barns on the property will begin. They are also building an animal barn, and a head house, for staff to wash and pack vegetables, as well as to arrange flowers.

Though it will take several years, they hope to connect the access roadways in Avalon so the public can walk through and see a working farm, which is presently only open to the public on Saturdays during farmstand hours. 

“It’s a lot of trying to control the flow of people and also keep them so that they can see animals but not accidentally have interactions,” said Holmdahl.

The community has been receptive to the farmstand so far, with frequent flyers from the park, and from the neighborhood coming on Saturdays, picking up eggs, vegetables, flowers, and fresh chicken.

“I love that there hasn’t been a week where I haven’t had somebody who’s new who says, ‘I’ve never been here before. I’ve seen the signs a lot,’” said Holmdahl.  “That’s really cool. Because I haven’t stressed too much about  a lot of advertising. We have a newsletter. We have signs out. People have talked about us, I think,” she said. “ I kind of let the word of mouth do its thing.”

Avalon’s yellow trails currently border the farm. Their maintenance staff helps with big projects, and some of Avalon’s summer camps have come to tour the farm. The farm is still young, and Griffiths is taking it day by day in terms of expansion. 

“We are fortunate in that we’re not trying to make a livelihood,” said Griffiths, who noted they still do want the farm to be financially successful. “We’re very lucky that we can focus on making this property healthy, rather than having to really focus on the return. The goal is clearing out all the invasive species and getting a healthy agricultural habitat.”

For more information on Birdsfoot Farm, call 631-689-0619.

Photo courtesy of PSEG Long Island

Thursday, Aug. 11 (8/11), is National 811 Day, and PSEG Long Island reminds anyone starting any improvement project that involves digging to call 811 first to get a free mark-out of underground lines. Hitting a buried electric, gas, water or cable line while digging can disrupt utility service, cost money to repair, and even cause severe injury or death. One free call to 811 will ensure customers “know what’s below.”

Every digging project, even a small project like planting a tree or building a deck, requires a call to 811. It’s the law. The call is free and the mark-out service is free. The call must be made whether the job is being performed by a professional or a do-it-yourselfer. Striking an underground electrical line can cause serious injury and outages, and result in repair costs and fines.

“No matter how small the project may be, calling 811 ahead of time helps protect underground utility lines and, more importantly, the safety of anyone digging,” said Richard Henderson, senior director of Electric Operations at PSEG Long Island. “Customers have been getting the message. Last year there were more than 215,000 mark-out requests in our service area, and so far this year, there have been more than 119,000 requests to 811.”

According to Common Ground Alliance, a member-driven association of nearly 1,800 individuals and 250 member companies in every facet of the underground utility industry, 40% of active diggers in North America do not call 811 because they think their project is too shallow to require it. All digging projects require a call to 811.

A free call to 811 in the service area automatically connects the caller to the local New York one-call center, which collects information about digging projects. The one-call center then provides the information to the utility companies, which send representatives to mark the locations of nearby underground lines with flags, paint or both. Once lines have been properly marked and confirmation from all of the utility owners is received, projects may proceed as long as caution is used around the marked areas.

Here’s important information to consider:

  • Underground gas and electric lines are everywhere, even on private properties. These facilities can be easily damaged if dug into, with the potential to cause serious injuries. Digging into these lines can also disrupt vital utility services, resulting in costly delays, expensive repairs and environmental or property damage.

  • Whether the job is a major home improvement project or something as simple as a fence or mailbox post, a call to 811 must be placed beforehand to determine where it’s safe to dig.

  • Call 811 at least two business days before the commencement of each job to have underground pipes, wires and equipment located. Each facility owner must respond by providing the excavator with a positive confirmation indicating that marks are in place where utility lines are buried or that there are no existing facilities in the area of the proposed work. This service is free of charge.

  • Be sure to wait until all of the utilities have responded. Don’t dig until lines have been marked or you have received confirmation that the area is clear of facilities.

  • Property owners must maintain and respect the marks. Always hand dig within 2 feet of marked lines to find the existing facilities before using mechanized equipment.

  • If gas lines are damaged or there is a gas smell when excavating, call 911 immediately from a safe area.

Calling before you dig is more than a good idea − it’s the law. Additional information, including a booklet on safe excavating practices and the protection of underground facilities, can be found on the PSEG Long Island website.

By Stephanie Giunta

Something is blooming on Long Island: lavender. In recent years, the rising popularity of lavender farms has taken the island by storm. The East End’s beautiful and expansive fields, filled with gorgeous colors and magnificent scents, has drawn a diverse crowd of both lifelong locals and international visitors. Crowds flock annually to traverse through acres of beauty, enjoying fragrant fields and spectacular views, completely enveloped by the purple craze.

If you are looking for a natural and transformative experience this summer, look no further than Lavender By the Bay. Located in both East Marion and Calverton, the farms are a fusion of agricultural artistry brought to life through the Rozenbaum family. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Chanan Rozenbaum, co-owner of the business, who provided some insight on the legacy behind the illustrious lavender and the farms’ tranquil escape. 

How did the business develop into two large farms with 47+ acres?

It’s quite a story. I grew up summering in Southold back in the 80s. My dad always had a green thumb and worked at the apple orchards in Israel. He was always playing around in the garden. He is originally from Paris, and lavender from France is a big part of the culture there — it grows acres upon acres. So, he tried growing lavender and it  flourished. 

My mom was an art teacher at the time in the NYC public school system, and was very crafty with dried flower bouquets and making sachets. We set up a picnic bench in front of the house, set up products, and my dad saw an opportunity. He saw lavender flourishing out there [the East End] and no one else was growing it. He loved the farm culture of the North Fork, so he took a chance and bought some property out in East Marion in 2002. It was a 17-acre plot. One year he planted one acre, then two, then three, and kept going. 

As a result of social media, we went viral. More and more people were coming [to the farm]. We saw that the property out east couldn’t totally handle the amount of people coming, so we bought the property in Calverton in 2018. The property is a little over 30 acres, and it’s been a great ride. We never thought the response would be what it was. 

Why do you think the lavender farms are so popular?

People really love lavender and it really affects them. I often get people telling me that the scent of lavender reminds them of their grandmother, or a pillow their mother gave them. It’s part of the charm and appeal of the farm. 

What type of lavender do you grow?

We grow English Lavender and French Lavender. English Lavender has a sweeter fragrance and a vibrant, purple color. Other varieties can be pink, white, and light blue. French Lavender has a stronger fragrance; it is a little more dull in color, but a taller bloom. It gives off that sea of purple when you’re standing in it. I love the French bloom, but the English is quite magnificent. 

When is the most optimal time to see each at peak bloom?

It’s very difficult to totally predict when the lavender is in bloom because we’re in Mother Nature’s hands. Typically, the English Lavender blooms mid-June to the end of June. Some varieties of English will bloom at the end of the summer or early fall.  French Lavender blooms in the beginning of July, peaks for the first two weeks, and extends until the end of July. It is never all in bloom at once since we are a working farm, and need time to harvest lavender in bunches for sachets.

What can people expect when they visit Lavender By the Bay?

Disconnection from technology. Being in the moment. Embracing nature for what it is. You can see the bees gathering nectar from the lavender, and butterflies fluttering around. It’s a unique experience needed for the soul. Especially in the times that we’re living in now after COVID, it’s really an opportunity to recenter yourself.

Lavender By the Bay is a beautiful experience. People are invited to walk around on paths through the fields and take photos. 

There are a variety of chairs that are perfect for photo ops, and a beautiful pavilion in the fields to relax in. We even allow professional photo shoots to take place, which are reserved for after hours, and require a separate site fee. You can email [email protected] to make arrangements.

To make the most of your day and time at the farm, we recommend purchasing tickets on our website beforehand to ensure customers get their full time in the fields, but there is no entry fee when we are not in bloom. You can subscribe to our newsletter for bloom and ticket announcements. 

Bring your dogs, too! As long as they are leashed and cleaned up after, they are welcome to enjoy the fields.

Can visitors pick their own lavender at the farms?

We don’t offer U-pick lavender, but we do sell freshly-cut bunches for purchase. We also carry and sell 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 gallon lavender plants. 

Do you sell food or drink at the farm?

In order to maintain the beauty of the farm, we do not allow food in the fields, and do not sell food on the premises. Water and non-alcoholic beverages are permitted.

If you could describe the farms’ ambience in three words, what would they be?

Serene, picturesque, aromatic.

What types of lavender products are sold at your farms’ shops? 

We sell dried lavender bouquets, handmade sachets, bath and body products, soaps, essential oils, pillow mists, and lotions, as well as wild lavender honey in our shops and on our website. We also offer gift cards for purchase in denominations of $25, $50, and $100, which are redeemable on our website only. 

We also do farmer’s markets in the city, so there is a lot of outreach from that. We do about 5 to 6 markets a week in Union Square, the Upper West Side and Brooklyn. 

What is your most popular product?

I would have to say our lavender plants, bunches, and sachets.

Why should people make the trip out to the North Fork? 

It’s a beautiful place. I always joke that people from France are coming to the lavender farm on Long Island. We have people from all over the world come to visit. There are lots of vineyards and many other farms, so it makes for a fantastic and wonderful day trip. One of the beauties of the North Fork is that it is so close to the city. To be able to drive an hour and be in a different world is quite an opportunity to explore. It’s wonderful.

IF YOU GO: Lavender By the Bay has two locations: 7540 Main Road, East Marion (631-477-1019) and 47 Manor Road, Calverton (631-381-0730). Both farms are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in June) through December. Please call before visiting as the farm hours are weather and staff dependent. For more information, visit www.lavenderbythebay.com/ and follow along on Instagram @lavenderbythebay. 

This article first appeared in Summer Times, a seasonal guide supplement by TBR News Media.

 

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport celebrated the revitalization, replanting, and resurrection of the Museum’s Rose Garden at a ribbon-cutting event on June 13.

The garden — with its centerpiece fountain and brick pathways — is once again in glorious full bloom and offers a striking view of Northport Bay. The restoration was made possible by a generous anonymous donation of $5,000.

Executive Director Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan presided over the event. Other speakers included James Kelly, President of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, and officers of the 65-member Centerport Garden Club, including Co-Presidents Wendy J. Wolfson and Cathy Cresko, and Rose Garden Committee Co-Chairs Nancy Schwartz and Linda Pitra.

The rose bushes, which were wiped out in 2020 by the highly contagious and incurable  Rose Rosette virus, had to be removed, along with the infected soil. The ground had to lie fallow for two years because the disease survives on tiny pieces of roots and other rose debris in the soil. Only then could the club — working with Operations Supervisor Jim Munson and his crew — replace the top 6-8 inches of soil and plant 57 new rose bushes representing 13 varieties.

“The varieties were selected for their disease resistance and how they will thrive on Long Island in an organic garden,” said Nancy Schwartz.

The club also planted six climbing hydrangeas, 17 hydrangea bushes including a variety that is sun-tolerant, eight boxwoods, and added several pollinator-friendly plantings. The project took three and a half years to complete. 

Two years later, the club was able to reintroduce new roses. “By then we had planted the boxwoods for architectural interest and the hydrangeas to define the entrances, and installed a lovely arbor,” Schwartz said. “We were still planting rose bushes this spring just before the ribbon-cutting event.”

Beginning June 24, summer hours for the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will be Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Fresh jams from Miss Amy’s Preserves are on display at the Northport Farmers’ Market on Saturday, June 6. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Visit your local farmers market to experience the range of fresh, local farm products, artisanal baked goods, specialty food items, hand-crafted items for home and body and so much more. Shop fresh, shop local, support your community!

Farmingville

◆ A farmers market will be held every Thursday through early October from noon to 5 p.m. in the south parking lot of Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville offering local produce, spirits, flowers, baked goods, and homemade bath and body products. 631-451-8696

◆ Triangle Park, corner of Horseblock Road and Woodycrest Drive, Farmingville hosts a Farmers, Artisans, and Friends Market on June 17 and Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Featuring local produce, handmade and homemade items, flea market treasures, food and refreshments, entertainment, activities for kids, a bounce house area and more. 631-260-7411

Huntington

A farmers market will be held in the parking lot at 228 Main St., Huntington on Sundays through Sept. 3 from 8 a.m. to noon and Sept. 10 to Nov. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fresh produce, baked goods, cheese, pickles, honey, live music. 631-944-2661

Lake Grove

Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove hosts a farmers market in the southwestern quadrant of the parking lot (adjacent to Bahama Breeze), on Saturdays (pickles, honey) and full market with vendors on Sundays. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. both days year-round. 516-444-1280

Northport

Cow Harbor Park parking lot, at the corner of Main Street and Woodbine Ave. in Northport, hosts a farmers market every Saturday through Nov. 18 (closed Sept. 23), from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Honey, ravioli, cheese, coffee, pickles, empanadas, mushrooms, baked goods, jams, fruits and vegetables, plants. 631-754-3905

Port Jefferson

The Port Jefferson Farmers Market will be held at Harborfront Park, 101-A E. Broadway, Port Jefferson every Sunday through Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Local produce,  honey, bread and baked goods, seafood, international specialties, plants, flower bouquets, live music. 631-473-4724

Rocky Point

Rocky Point Farmers and Artisans Market, 115 Prince Road at Old Depot Park, Rocky Point returns on Sundays from July 2 to Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. under the new direction of the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce. Fresh locally grown produce, craft beer, artisan crafts, baked goods. 631-729-0699

St. James

St. James Lutheran Church, 230 2nd Ave., St. James hosts a farmers market in its parking lot every Saturday through Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fresh locally grown produce, flowers, honey, coffee, shellfish, artisan baked goods, breads jams, hot food, pickles, craft beer, international foods, live music, kids corner. 516-220-8217

Setauket

The Three Village  Farmers Market is held Fridays on the grounds of the Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Road, Setauket through Sept. 1 from 3 to 7 p.m. and from Sept. 8 to Oct. 27 from 2 to 6 p.m. Farm fresh produce, artisanal bread and cheese, local honey, nuts and spices, seafood, pickles, jams and jellies, baked treats, handcrafted goods, prepared foods, free hands-on activities for children. 631-751-3730

— Compiled by Heidi Sutton

By Tara Mae

The allure of foliage and other flora is an alchemy of fanciful imagination, artistic interpretation, and scientific intuition. Such traditions, planted a century ago, will bloom with a renewed vision at the North Suffolk Garden Club’s (NSGC) annual garden show, “Sands of Time,” at Deepwells Mansion, 2 Taylor Street in St. James on Wednesday, June 7, from 1:30 to 4 p.m., and Thursday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Members of the NSGC will be joined by different garden clubs from Long Island and around the country, including the Kettle Moraine Garden Club, whose members primarily hail from Waukesha County, Wisconsin. 

Generally affiliated with the umbrella organization, Garden Club of America (GCA), all participating garden clubs will showcase their horticultural aptitude with a variety of individual and collaborative creations. As a juried show, entrees will be assessed by a panel of three GCA approved judges. 

Featuring between 30 and 50 horticulture exhibits (plants and cuttings), approximately 12 floral exhibits, and a miniatures exhibit (tiny floral arrangement done in diminutive dimensions), “Sands of Time” is a testament to the NSGC’s robust history of industry and ingenuity.  

“We are celebrating our 100th year with this centennial flower show as a way to display our abilities in horticulture, floral design, and photography,” flower show committee co-chair Deanna Muro said. “Our show is based on the history of our club…We picked a historic venue, Deepwells, to set a really nice stage for all our different displays relating to the history of the club and this area.” 

With four distinct categories, Floral Design, Horticulture, Photography, and Education, the display explores how NSGC’s growth and development is reflected in the evolution of its surroundings. Every category has different classes that are a tribute and testament to the nature of life and budding environmental awareness in the 1920s.

“Each flower show must include an educational component. ‘Sands of Time’ focuses on 100 years of conservation, which has always been the root of the garden club. In the 1920s or 1930s, women of the NSGC, carrying their parasols and dressed in their finery, sailed down the Nissequogue River to draw attention to runoff and other water pollution. One of the classes is a floral homage to those parasols,” NSGC president Leighton Coleman III said. 

From its inception, conservation was a primary concern of NSGC. Established at the onset of widespread automotive culture, the club quickly recognized its environmental hazards: air pollution, littering, disruption of natural plant and animal habitats, etc. 

Thus, over the years NSGC has addressed issues both aesthetic and atmospheric, like  battling to ban roadside billboards; preserving scenic views and open spaces; promoting the plight of endangered waterways as it seeks to preserve them; highlighting the vulnerabilities of wildlife dependent on native plants; and creating community gardens.  

Hosting this year’s event at Deepwells is itself an homage to this fertile history. It was the summer home of William Jay Gaynor, mayor of New York City from 1910-1913, and his wife Augusta Cole Mayer Gaynor, an avid gardener whose scrapbooks and other belongings will be present in the exhibition. 

Intricately intertwined with the local cultural, climate, and communal past, NSGC was founded in 1923 by Smithtown residents. Accepted as an official member of the GCA in 1931, NSGC gained further prominence shortly after World War II when the club’s successful victory gardens and canning kitchens earned it government recognition. 

Cited then as a club that others should emulate, NSGC’s membership base continues to strive for such excellence. Over the decades, through education and community outreach, it supported the successful effort to save the 500-acre Blydenburgh Park and amplified the importance of the Pine Barrens legislation in the 1980s. More recently, NSGC collaborated with the Stony Brook Yacht Club to restore the Stony Brook Harbor oyster beds.  

Gardeners of NSGC are devoted to furthering its efforts in ecology and conservationism with the varied crop of projects it nurtures throughout the year. “Sands of Time” is just one element of the group’s ongoing effort to advance its original mission of conservationism as it engages the public in ecological and environmental awareness. 

“We want to get people interested in gardening, conservation, and things associated with that, like indigenous plants, including pollinators,” Coleman said. “Our history of being involved in ecology dates back to the beginning of the club, starting with the development of auto culture in the 1920s, then expanding in the 1960s with revved up interest in ecology, dealing with pesticides, urban sprawl and development, and promoting habitat for endangered animals and parks.” 

NSGC strives to promulgate such interests through its community outreach endeavors including maintaining the Long Island Museum’s herb garden and championing conservation and environmental endeavors on the local as well as national level. 

“We are looking forward to letting the public know what we do and giving an idea of the importance of garden clubs…the flower show basically gives you an introduction of what the garden club does and a sense of community,” Rockwell-Gifford said. 

The club currently consists of approximately 55 individuals, including retirees and professionals, many of whom are second or third generation members.  

“I love all of the friendships I have made joining the garden club…Members are a dynamic mosaic — a real kaleidoscope of personalities. We welcome new people to join us,” Coleman III said. 

“Sands of Time” is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.northsuffolkgardenclub.org. 

TVGC President Karin Ryon with Giovanna Maffetone, SCCC scholarship recipient on April 11. Photo courtesy of Three Village Garden Club

Representatives from Suffolk County Community College attended the Three Village Garden Club meeting at the Setauket Neighborhood House on April 11  to present the Three Village Garden Club Scholarship to Giovanna Maffetone. This scholarship is offered to Suffolk County Community College students enrolled in the Environmental Science/Forestry program, specifically targeting students planning to transfer to a four year SUNY ESF program.

Chris Williams from the Suffolk Community College Foundation presented a $5000 scholarship check to Giovanna. Also in attendance was Vladimir Jurukovski, Academic Chair of Biology at the SCCC Ammerman campus.

The Three Village Garden Club is happy to support young people who are pursuing careers in horticultural science, wildlife science, ecology, environmental science, landscaping, forestry, and plant science. Additional scholarships are awarded to students from Ward Melville High School and SUNY Farmingdale.