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Smithtown Historical Society

By Rita J. Egan

As the warm weather arrives, many people look forward to picking up fresh vegetables, fruit spreads, honey and more at local farmers markets. This year though the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way many business owners and customers go about selling and buying.

Jennifer Ross, founder of HeartBeet Farms, knew this year she would need to do things differently. Known for selling vegetables out of a food truck at the Stony Brook Village Center and the Smith Haven Mall, Ross decided to organize a new type of outdoor market. 

On May 21, lovers of fresh, local goods found a drive-through farmers market in the southwest corner of the mall parking lot by Bahama Breeze Island Grille. Ross said she thought it would give customers the chance to shop from the convenience of their cars and also provide a safe environment for both them and vendors.

The first night was a big success with scores of cars lining up throughout the evening to purchase items such as vegetables, local honey, pizza-making kits, popcorn, organic coffee and more.

Ross said Ann Schultz, the director of marketing and business development at Smith Haven Mall for the Simon Property Group, told her about a drive-through farmers market that was set up at a Florida Simon mall. She reached out to a few product owners to get their feedback, and she said it was positive so “I said, you know what, let’s give it a try.” 

All vendor fees from the outside market will be donated to local charities, she said, and the nonprofit they donate to will change each month. For the first month, the money will go to Long Island Harvest, which at the end of the May 21 market, in addition to checks, received leftover food from many vendors. Ross said the farmers market will look at all nonprofits that may need help, not only food-related ones.

“That was key to me because nonprofits are struggling in all categories,” she explained.

Ross said as Long Island businesses begin to reopen, HeartBeet Farms will be able to set up a traditional walk-through farmers market at the mall. The parking lot is one that usually only fills up during Christmastime, she added, so there shouldn’t be an issue with parking.

Until then, the drive-through market offers prepaid options for those who may not have the time to wait. Items that need to be chilled are kept in coolers until customers pick them up, she said.

Upon entry last Thursday customers received a flyer detailing what the more than a dozen vendors who were participating had to offer. Ross said in the future the participants will be adding more information to the handouts, and there will also be more vendors setting up booths. Ross said for the first night she wanted to make sure there was enough room for everyone before saying yes to all who were interested. Participants are only asked to commit to a month and not the whole season, she added, as Ross is aware of the difficult economic times many are facing during the pandemic and the possibility of getting ill.

“I don’t want to take their money and then something happens and they can’t be there, and they need their money,” she said.

Ross said she feels the drive though farmers market will help even the mall as the weekly drive-through will bring renewed attention to it. “It will bring business to a mall that is suffering right now,” she said.

Helping out at the farmers market were Ross’ daughters Anna and Abby Morrongiello who founded the nonprofit Don8tions with twin brothers Joshua and Zach Young and friend Meena Tommasino-Storz. The group sells products, such as at the Chocolate & Honey, a holiday concession stand in the Smith Haven Malland, then use their earnings to buy soup for those who attend The Children’s Community Head Start Birth-to-Five Program in Port Jefferson Station. To supplement the soup, the students also provide bread donated by Premier Pastry to the head start families.

Ross and the twins’ mother Michelle Young said the teenagers purchased PopInsanity popcorn wholesale to sell at the farmers market and will donate all profits to their soup drive. While Anna, Abby and Meena worked at other booths for vendors who were unable to work with the public May 21, the Youngs sold the popcorn. Michelle said she even got in a car to drive around to experience everything firsthand, adding that the farmers market came at a good time because since COVID-19 hit, the teens were worried they wouldn’t be able to raise money for the families they have grown to care about. “They’re hard workers,” said Michelle. “I’m always really proud of them because there are a lot of teenagers who would be like I’m not doing that.”

Zachary and Josh, who are completing eighth grade at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School in Setauket, both enjoyed the drive-through farmers market. “It was actually pretty good to get out of the house,” Zachary said. “There were a lot of people helping out, and it was a little bit of returning to normalcy while being safe at the same time.” 

Josh agreed. “I thought it was interesting because I never have done anything like that before, with all the cars,” he said. “It was nice to finally meet new people and somewhat interact.”

For years, HeartBeet Farms operated out of Bethel Hobbs Community Farm in Centereach where Ross leased land, but she said now she is currently growing produce at the Smithtown Historical Society. Starting a garden is something Ross encourages everyone to do, and she said it’s an ideal time to do so not only for health reasons but also to lessen trips to the grocery store.

“In general, you just have to do your best to keep your body healthy, and one of the ingredients in that is vegetables,” she said, adding that local, organic and sustainable foods are better. 

Ross also said gardening has other health benefits. “It’s a great stress reliever. The main reason is putting your hands in the soil and being connected. It’s the greatest thing.”

The drive-through farmers market will be held every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m., rain or shine, in the Smith Haven Mall southwest parking lot (off Middle Country Road) near Bahama Breeze restaurant through the fall. Pre-ordering is available but not required. For more information, call 516-343-6247 or visit www.heartbeetfarms.com/farmers-market.

Vendors scheduled for May 28

Pecks of Maine — locally made fruit spreads including strawberry rhubarb, dark sweet cherry and many more

Jason’s Healthy, Gluten-Free Meals — dinners to go including chicken franchese with basmati rice and broccoli plus dressings and glazes

Rustic Roots — sustainable vegetables, milk, eggs, cheese, meat, seafood

My Favorite Hummus — 8 oz. classic hummus and Salsa Salta tortilla chips

Sansone Market — pizza kit: sauce, dough ball, shredded mozzarella and pizza cutter

Long Island Microgreens — broccoli, superfood salad mix, speckled pea, leek, mustard microgreens and North Fork Potato Chips

Nina’s Fresh Batch — sweet & salty, chocolate chip and five spice oatmeal cookies; pistachio golden raisin, pecan dried cherry and three nut ginger granola

BeeWitched Bee — local honey, infused honey, elderberry syrup, maple syrup, honey sticks

Pixie Soaps & Suds — cold-processed soaps, body scrubs and more

Popinsanity — classic caramel, sweet & salty, chocolate drizzle, and cookies & cream popcorn

Horman’s Best — classic bread & butter sweet, half sour whole, kosher dill, honey mustard pickles and more

Tend Coffee — organic blends, single origin coffee, Kind Leaf tea and more

Jericho Cider Mill — half gallon apple cider, donute bites and small apple crumb pies 

HeartBeet Farms Farm to Table Soups, Salsa and Sauce  — farm to table potato leek soup, Margherita sauce, tomato tomatillo salsa and Carroll’s Kitchen tortilla chips

New! Le Fusion — homemade spring rolls, vegan and vegetarian

New! The Ferm — fermented farm goods including Kombucha and sauerkraut

New! The Simple Cookie — cookie ingredients in a jar

All photos by Rita J. Egan

Photo courtesy of WMHO

Here are some fun and educational ways for your kids to enjoy winter break:

Benner’s Farm

Ever wonder what it’s like to be on a real working farm in the winter? Kids ages 7 to 14 can enjoy winter break at Benner’s Farm, 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, E. Setauket on Feb. 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn how to make maple syrup, help care for the animals and more. Snacks provided. Bring lunch. $60 per day, $100 for both days. To register, call 631-689-8172 or visit www.bennersfarm.com.

Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery

Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery, 1660 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor will hold several winter break events from Feb. 17 to 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Make snow that won’t melt, make homemade ice cream and create slippery, sticky slime. Admission is $7 adults, $6 seniors, $5 kids ages 3 to 12. Call 516-692-6768.

Huntington Historical Society

Kids in grades 1 to 6 can join the Huntington Historical Society at the Conklin Barn, 2 High St., Huntington for a variety of hands-on history activities, including learning traditional weaving techniques and Presidents Day-themed crafts, games and activities on Feb. 17 and 18 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Campers will go home with a piece of their very own hand-woven fabric. Fee is $35 per day. Call 631-427-7045.

Smithtown Historical Society 

Enjoy February break with the Smithtown Historical Society,  239 E. Main St., Smithtown from Feb. 18 to 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Enjoy a different theme each day including Kaleidoscope Fun, Mid Week Mardi Gras, Snow Day and National Biscuit Day. Fee is $30 per day. To register, call 631-265-6768.

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

From Feb. 17 to 20 from 10 a.m. to noon children in grades K through 3 can take part in several workshops at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Learning Center, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport. Participants will take tours of the museum’s collections and then create a related craft including an owl diorama, animal portrait and a mixed-media deep-sea collage. $20 per child. To register, call 631-843-5539.

Ward Melville Heritage Organization

On Feb. 18 to 20 from 10 to 11:30 a.m., the WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook hosts a Puppet Making workshop for ages 6 to 11 with acclaimed artist Liz Joyce ($100 for all three days) and Music Mornings with Johnny Cuomo for ages 3 to 5 ($85 for all three days, $30 per day). To register, call 631-751-2244.

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Come in out of the cold and join the Smithtown Historical Society for a fun evening of Soup Making & More on Friday, Jan. 24. Create three different soup mixes in mason jars, homemade butter and old-fashioned Johnny Cakes to take home. Meet at the Frank Brush Barn, 211 E. Main St., Smithtown at 7 p.m. Fee is $25 per person, $20 members. Advance registration is required by calling 631-265-6768.

The Smithtown Historical Society’s annual community wreath contest drew 17 contenders. Each wreath, made with care and donated by a community member, hung in the Frank Brush Barn for its annual Holiday Luncheon on Dec. 6 and at its Heritage Country Christmas fair on Dec. 7. Wreath winners were drawn at the end of the Christmas fair. Best in Show was awarded to Marti McMahon for her festive pointsettia wreath, second place was handed to Marie Gruick for her adorable snowman wreath and third place went to Sandy Bond for her beautiful pinecone creation. Congratulations to all the winners!

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The Smithtown Historical Society celebrated the holidays the old fashioned way Dec. 7 with its annual Heritage Country Christmas.

The society’s historic homes were adorned for the festivities, and visitors were able to tour the houses as well as the Frank Brush Barn. Attendees found live music, carolers, costumed volunteers, crafts, a shadow puppet show, raffles and more. Santa was also on hand to take children’s gift requests which included bikes, toy cars and trucks and dolls.

 

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 AKC Championship All-Breed Dog Show
Suffolk County’s largest canine event takes place Saturday, September 28, rain or shine, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society, 211 E. Main Street, Smithtown, when the Suffolk County Kennel Club hosts its Annual AKC All-breed Championship Dog Show.  Over 400 dogs will put their best paws forward as judges from nine states award ribbons, trophies, and championships to the winners.  Special features will include a four-to-six month old puppy competition, and the popular “My Dog Can Do That,” an opportunity for attendees to try their own dogs on an Agility Course.   Admission is $10 per person, or $20 per carload.  For further details:  call (631) 277-2201 or visit www.suffolkcountykennelclub.org.
Please note: the wrong date was listed in this week’s Times … and dates calendar. We regret the error.

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On Sept. 22, visitors to the Smithtown Heritage Society had the opportunity to explore the organization’s grounds during its annual Heritage Country Fair.

Attendees enjoyed live music, traditional dancing, crafts, pumpkin painting, horse riding demonstrations, a petting zoo and more.

Visitors also had the opportunity to learn about fire engines and work trucks, see a blacksmith at work, climb into a DeLorean inspired by the “Back to the Future” car and explore the historic homes found on the property.

Save the date! The Smithtown Historical Society will host a Community Yard Sale at the Frank Brush Barn, 211 East Main St., Smithtown on Saturday, Aug. 17 from noon to 4 p.m. Come see the treasures your neighbors have to offer! Proceeds will help fund the society’s educational and farm programs. Questions? Call 631-265-6768.

The Suffolk County Kennel Club hosted the 12th annual AKC Canine Experience on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society on Aug. 3. The event featured a day of activities for dogs and their owners including competitions in conformation, obedience and rally, plus agility demonstrations and run-thru’s.

Judges Toby Frisch and Samantha Keeler were tasked with choosing the top three winners of the day. Cooper, an Akita owned by Steve Lisker of East Rockaway, captured the Best Puppy in Match title; and River, an English Springer Spaniel owned by Tracey Monahan of Kings Park, won for Best Adult in Match. Holly, a long coat Chihuahua owned by Kerri Kimpel of Smithtown, captured the titled of Best in All Breed Sweeps in Match.

Attendees were also able to test their dogs for Canine Good Citizen titles, attended handling classes and received grooming tips. Join the group for its annual AKC Point Show at that same site on Sept. 28 with over 700 dogs participating. For additional information, visit www.suffolkcountykennelclub.org. 

Photos by Heidi Sutton