07/11/14 8:00am
07/11/2014 8:00 AM
Aquaculturist Bren Smith of Thimble Island Oyster Company in Connecticut is the first sugar kelp grower to cultivate the sea vegetable from Long Island Sound waters. He is working with food industry insiders, including expert chefs from New York City, and international supermarket chains to help drive market demand for domestically grown kelp products. (Credit: Bren Smith)

Aquaculturist Bren Smith of Thimble Island Oyster Company in Connecticut is the first sugar kelp grower to cultivate the sea vegetable from Long Island Sound waters. He is working with food industry insiders, including expert chefs from New York City, and international supermarket chains to help drive market demand for domestically grown kelp products. (Credit: Bren Smith)

It’s a delicacy Asian cultures have enjoyed for centuries but is more commonly thought of as the slippery — and sometimes slimy — brown stuff that grows naturally in area waters and then washes up on beaches.

And one day, it could be a major moneymaker for the North Fork.  (more…)

06/15/14 12:00pm
06/15/2014 12:00 PM
A woman self-administering insulin. (Credit: Corbis stock image)

A woman self-administering insulin. (Credit: Corbis stock image)

Studies have shown that diabetes, which causes blood sugar to reach dangerous levels, significantly increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. For that reason, it’s imperative patients maintain treatment and diet regimens that will enable them to live longer and healthier lives. (more…)

06/04/14 8:00am
06/04/2014 8:00 AM
R1205_Preserve_BE_C.jpg

Drainage at the North Fork Preserve is one issue the county is hoping to fix by borrowing money in this year’s proposed capital improvement plan.

The Suffolk County Legislature hopes to borrow more than $70 million over the next three years to fund capital improvements and educational expansion initiatives, including projects from Riverside to Southold Town.  (more…)

05/12/14 7:00am
05/12/2014 7:00 AM
Compost piles should be turned every few weeks. (Cyndi Murray photo)

Compost piles should be turned every few weeks. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Composting is one of the simplest, most effective ways to help the environment from home. An all-natural process, compost is known as “black gold” for its ability to add nutrients to the soil and reduce the amount of solid waste in landfills. (more…)

02/06/14 6:00am
02/06/2014 6:00 AM

Carrie Miller photo | Local farmers will continue to benefit from an updated farm bill.

North Fork farmers who have waited nearly two years for the passage of an updated farm bill say that if the president signs the measure passed this week by Congress, they stand to benefit from many of the same subsidy programs they have in the past — as well as new initiatives aimed at expanding crop insurance and farm-to-consumer marketing. (more…)

01/28/14 11:00am
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO One of the participants (center) shows off his disappointment when his name wasn't called by Officer Jill Wicklund while she was announcing the prize winners.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | One of the participants (center) shows off his disappointment when his name wasn’t called by Officer Jill Wicklund while she was announcing the prize winners last year.

Students in fifth through ninth grades and live in Riverhead Town will have an opportunity to win a free bicycle and helmet in an upcoming essay contest. (more…)

01/04/14 8:00am
01/04/2014 8:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Aquebogue farmer Donald McKay cutting a field of hay recently on Sound Avenue in Riverhead. The hay is sprayed with citric acid to prevent mold from growing.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO |
Aquebogue farmer Donald McKay cutting a field of hay recently on Sound Avenue in Riverhead. The hay is sprayed with citric acid to prevent mold from growing.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County will hold its 33rd annual Long Island Agricultural Forum at Suffolk County Community College’s Riverhead Campus Jan. 16 and 17.

The two-day conference will include informational sessions on issues affecting growers and dealers across the region.

General sessions include information on the East End’s weather station network, which is being used to enhance crop production and pest management, the Affordable Care Act and what it means for area business owners, the Long Island pesticide strategy and information dealing with updates to labor law compliance, as well as 2013 survey results on the State of Suffolk County Agriculture.

Smaller sessions will focus on specific issues related to potato/vegetable production, viticulture, greenhouse and nursery production, sustainable agriculture, tree fruit production, livestock and poultry harvesting and marketing, and environmental landscaping and gardening.

Registration is $30 a person; after Jan. 10, the registration fee will be $45 a person. For more information or a registration form, call Linda Holm at 631-727-7850, ext 341, or visit www.ccesuffolk.org for the complete schedule.

Schedule below:

33rd Annual Long Island Agricultural Forum

11/30/13 5:00pm
11/30/2013 5:00 PM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Suffolk County Water Authority assistant superintendent Warren Jensen.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Suffolk County Water Authority assistant superintendent Warren Jensen.

In an effort to reduce the impact of chemicals on Long Island’s groundwater, the Suffolk County Water Authority wants to learn more about how North Fork farmers cultivate their land.

The public agency has contracted Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County to gather data from local farmers about their agricultural practices, hoping to better understand if and how the chemicals they use are reaching groundwater.

“We want to have a better handle on things like what crops are being grown and what products are being used to grow those crops,” said Carrie Meek Gallagher, chief sustainability officer for the SCWA.

A farmer’s irrigation and product storage practices can each play a role in whether or not chemicals are leeching into the groundwater, she said.

After gathering the information, Cornell scientists will make recommendations on how farming practices might be improved to protect water quality in the future, Ms. Gallagher said.

Dale Moyer, agriculture program director at the county extension said researchers are in the beginning stages of planning the study, which they hope to start sometime early next year.

“Based on what we learn and understand, we may come up with additional practices to avoid or minimize any impacts from the pesticide use,” Mr. Moyer said. “Now is the time when the farmers aren’t so busy, so there can be some conversation and discussion of practices of what’s being done and what can be done.”

He said there are many materials farmers use that do not make their way into groundwater, so researchers hope to also get a broad understanding of products working well in the area.

The program, which will cost about $5,700, will focus on farms surrounding the agency’s well field off Route 48 near Mill Lane in Peconic. The well field, one of 17 overseen by SCWA, has seven individual wells, Ms. Gallagher said.

It is one component of a long-term plan the authority is working on to continue supplying North Fork residents with safe drinking water — free of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers used in agricultural production, according to SCWA officials.

“Currently, 27 out of 56 authority supply wells on the North Fork are on treatment for pesticide-related contamination,” said SCWA chairman James Gaughran. “As the equipment needed to filter out these chemicals is extremely expensive, it’s in the best interest of our customers to take whatever steps are possible to reduce the amount of these chemicals entering the aquifer system.”

This year, SCWA installed a filter known as a granular activated carbon system, at one of the seven wells in the Peconic field. The system, which holds 10,000 pounds of carbon, costs about $750,000, not including maintenance, said Warren Jensen, an assistant superintendent with the agency.

Trace amounts of at least five different chemicals commonly used in agriculture had been detected in groundwater at the Peconic site, according to 2012 SCWA data. They include nitrates (nitrogen) and metalaxyl, two of the substances most widely contested by environmental advocates.

Many of the pesticides or fertilizers that have been detected in Long Island’s groundwater are what the agency calls legacy contaminants that are no longer available for use on Long Island, Ms. Gallagher said. Some of the detected compounds, however, are still being used in fertilizers and pesticides on Long Island.

If SCWA finds the information gathered by Cornell useful, it may extend the program to each of its additional well fields.

cmiller@timesreview.com