12/19/14 8:00am
12/19/2014 8:00 AM
The Second Street firehouse was obtained by Riverhead Town in 2011 in a land swap with the Riverhead Fire District. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

The Second Street firehouse was obtained by Riverhead Town in 2011 in a land swap with the Riverhead Fire District. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

The sale of the Second Street firehouse has been in the headlines several times in the last couple of years.

Initially, it was expected that Suffolk Theater owner Bob Castaldi would purchase the building for $375,000. Then, after prolonged negotiations, the Town Board upped the price to $500,000 and unanimously loosened restrictions to allow additional uses for the property — prompting debate over whether or not other bidders should get a second bite at the apple. (more…)

07/27/14 2:00pm
07/27/2014 2:00 PM
Nicholas Mazard, director of sales and marketing for Koppert Cress USA, explained that natural fiber is used instead of soil to grow  microgreens, enabling the live plant products to arrive at restaurants without bringing 'dirt into their kitchens.' (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Nicholas Mazard, director of sales and marketing for Koppert Cress USA, explained that natural fiber is used instead of soil to grow microgreens, enabling the live plant products to arrive at restaurants without bringing ‘dirt into their kitchens.’ (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Picture a full garden’s worth of flavors: sweet corn, beets, sweet peas, arugula, fresh basil and even crisp green apples.

Now picture all of those varieties tiny enough to be pressed together in your fingertips.

This is happening right now on the North Fork, where Koppert Cress USA of Cutchogue is producing microgreens. Each one is packed full of fresh flavor and boasts more nutrition than varieties grown full size.  (more…)

07/27/14 8:00am
Young Farmers Camp coordinator Lucy Senesac plants seeds with Rudy Bruer, 10, of Mattituck and Julia Galasso, 12, of Westhampton. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Young Farmers Camp coordinator Lucy Senesac plants seeds with Rudy Bruer, 10, of Mattituck and Julia Galasso, 12, of Westhampton. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

“Eat your vegetables.”

The phrase may generate a certain queasy feeling in your stomach and an innate desire to defy your mother. Uttered sternly by countless moms over the years to kids of all ages, it’s easy to remember that nothing seemed worse than swallowing the last (or first) bite of broccoli or brussels sprouts.

Lucy Senesac of Sang Lee Farms, however, is determined to change that healthy-eating stereotype.

Sang Lee Farms in Peconic is running a Young Farmer’s Camp for 7- to 12-year-olds on Wednesdays through Aug. 13. Ms. Senesac began working at Sang Lee about four years ago and became eager to share her knowledge with kids.

“I wanted to do something to basically teach other people because I’ve learned so much here,” she explained. “And I’ve just found that it’s so important to learn where your food comes from. It affects so much.”KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOVegetables grow in raised beds.

Ms. Senesac eventually wants to offer classes on healthy and organic eating for adults, but for now she’s starting with kids. This is the first year for the camp, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with plenty of fun activities and learning opportunities. Nine children are currently enrolled.

“I wanted to share my passion for good food and eating well with the kids out here because it’s such a great community and there’s so much farming. They just need to be a part of it,” she said.

Camp is complete with hay bales, a chalkboard and garden beds just for the kids. Every week the campers plant and learn about the “vegetables of the week.” In the mornings, they recap what they learned the week before and look to see if anything has sprouted.

Next, Ms. Senesac takes them around Sang Lee to learn about the new vegetables of the week and then they go over an educational topic of the week.

The first week’s topic was “what organic means” the second week’s was bees.

07/01/14 12:00pm
07/01/2014 12:00 PM
A field of corn behind Jenn's farmstand on Peconic Bay Boulevard in Aquebogue on Monday. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A field of corn behind Jenn’s farmstand on Peconic Bay Boulevard in Aquebogue on Monday. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

North Fork growers say they are in a race against time and temperature, hoping they will be able to harvest enough local sweet corn to fill farm stand shelves for the busy holiday weekend.

The lasting effects of the cold winter stalled the growth of many area corn crops, putting harvesting behind schedule, according to many local farmers. (more…)

06/28/14 10:00am
06/28/2014 10:00 AM
(Credit: The Nature Conservancy)

This map uses pie charts to break down the various sources and levels of nitrogen pollution found in the Peconic Estuary from Calverton to Montauk and Orient. Click on map to enlarge. (Credit: The Nature Conservancy)

The Nature Conservancy released a report last week on the various ways nitrogen finds its way from the air and land and into surface waters throughout the Peconic Estuary.

The report’s data shows that causes of nitrogen pollution vary significantly across the East End.

(more…)

06/22/14 4:00pm
06/22/2014 4:00 PM
Phil Schmitt speaking with industry officials from upstate Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Phil Schmitt speaking with industry officials from upstate Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Phil Schmitt of Schmitt Family Farms in Riverhead welcomed farming support representatives from the New York City watershed region last week to share some of the conservation practices being used every day on the Roanoke Avenue farm.

(more…)

05/30/14 8:00am
05/30/2014 8:00 AM
Farmer Debbie Schmitt at her new semi-mobile farmstand that she had built toward the end of 2013 on Sound Avenue in Riverhead. (Credit: BARBARAELLEN KOCH )

Farmer Debbie Schmitt at her new semi-mobile farmstand that she had built toward the end of 2013 on Sound Avenue in Riverhead. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

As production costs for Suffolk County’s farmers rise, the return they receive on that investment is going down, painting a “gloomy” picture for the future of Long Island’s farm operations, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  (more…)

05/07/14 8:00am
05/07/2014 8:00 AM
Asparagus is slowly making its way into spring at Wells Homestead Acres in Riverhead. It is not ready to be harvested until it reaches a height of at least six to eight inches. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Asparagus is slowly making its way into spring at Wells Homestead Acres in Riverhead. It is not ready to be harvested until it reaches a height of at least six to eight inches. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

The lasting effects of a stormy winter have put a damper on the spring growing season, and produce that would otherwise be on farm stand shelves by now has yet to even break through the ground.

April’s end usually marks the beginning of the spring harvest across the North Fork, said Philip Schmitt of Schmitt Family Farms in Riverhead.

But this year, the season has become something of a waiting game.

“We’re hoping by the weekend to get started with some of the winter spinach,” Mr. Schmitt said. “With the rain from late Thursday and the nice weekend, things did jump a little. But we do have a long way to go. If Mother Nature cooperates from here on out we’ll be OK.”

Mr. Schmitt said the harsh winter cost him about 20 percent of his winter spinach crop, as well as some of his parsley — though he did say that there were some benefits to the deep freeze.

“When the ground freezes, it expands, and that helps to aerate the soil a little,” he explained. “It can also help with the pressures of disease and insects. With a winter like we just had, it’s certainly beneficial in that regard.”

Stephanie Gaylor of Invincible Summer Farms, an organic farm in Southold, said she’s about a month behind in both harvesting and planting her next round of crops.

“Everything we do is by soil temperature,” she said “The soil temperature is about 10 to 11 degrees colder than it normally is.”

While she has planted some varieties of tomatoes and peppers known to ripen early, she’s held off on planting other tomatoes.

“I have to wait for things to heat up,” she said, adding that she may consider planting some varieties in mulch to speed up the growing process.

“Even our asparagus came up later than usual,” she said.

Asparagus is the staple spring crop at Wells Homestead Acres in Riverhead, said grower Lyle Wells.

“We started [harvesting] the 15th of April last year, and by the 20th we were picking tremendous amount of asparagus,” he said. “This year it’s very slow growing.”

He started to harvest May 1, explaining that unlike most other vegetables, asparagus grows multiple spears from the same crown, so fields can be picked continuously.

“Instead of picking every 24 to 36 hours like we would otherwise, we’re picking every 72 hours,” he said.

But the upside of the slow start has been a surge in demand, Mr. Wells said, allowing him to sell at a higher price than normal this season.

He said he’s selling asparagus wholesale for between $2 and $2.50 a pound, where $1.50 to $2 tends to be the industry norm, though he’s not expecting those prices to last long.

“The weather seems to be turning this week, so I’m sure the price and supply will level off,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have a plentiful supply for Mother’s Day so we can fire up the grill and enjoy it.”

cmiller@timesreview.com