01/08/15 8:59am
01/08/2015 8:59 AM
Former Farm Bureau president Mark Zaweski presents Joe Gergela with a miniature tractor as a memento at his retirement party last month. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Former Farm Bureau president Mark Zaweski presents Joe Gergela with a miniature tractor as a memento at his retirement party last month. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Scenic corridors, fine wine and farm-fresh produce are enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. They provide the backdrop for and help define life on the North Fork — and are testaments to the area’s rich agricultural history. But beyond all the beauty and nostalgia, farming is a business. And it’s a tough and dirty business, one that’s under constant threat from forces both natural and man-made.

For 26 years, Joseph Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, has worked to protect the farmer and, to the best of his ability, help the industry thrive. Last year, he decided to retire. Because of his lifelong passion, leadership and devotion to the North Fork’s farming community, Mr. Gergela is the recipient of The Suffolk Times’ first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.   (more…)

12/04/14 9:03pm
12/04/2014 9:03 PM
The recipients of the 2014 Riverhead Chamber of Commerce awards. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

The recipients of the 2014 Riverhead Chamber of Commerce awards. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce held its annual award dinner Thursday evening at the East Wind in Wading River.

Read what each of the recipients had to say by clicking on the page links below. 

10/27/14 3:00pm
10/27/2014 3:00 PM
Senator LaValle presented L.I. Farm Bureau executive director Joe Gergela with the Paul Stoutenburgh Leadership Award.

State Sen. Ken LaValle presented L.I. Farm Bureau executive director Joe Gergela with the Paul Stoutenburgh Leadership Award.

North Fork Environmental Council advocacy volunteers Friday celebrated the 2014 Paul Stoutenburgh Leadership Award winner, the first since the recent death of the council’s notable co-founder.

Long-time Long Island Farm Bureau executive director Joseph Gergela — who is retiring after 26 years in the role — received the award, a decision that came as a surprise to some, considering the fact that relationships between farmers and environmentalists can sometimes be seen as at-odds.

(more…)

09/24/14 8:00am
09/24/2014 8:00 AM
The Suffolk County Soil and Water District celebrated its 50th anniversary with an event last week. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

The Suffolk County Soil and Water District celebrated its 50th anniversary with an event last week. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Before there was a state Department of Environmental Conservation tasked with protecting local soil and water resources, there was the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District. (more…)

09/12/14 8:00am
09/12/2014 8:00 AM
A buffalo calf feeds at North Quarter Farm in Riverhead Tuesday. Owner Ed Tuccio said the dry summer season decreased the newborn mortality rate. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A buffalo calf feeds at North Quarter Farm in Riverhead Tuesday. Owner Ed Tuccio said the dry summer season decreased the newborn mortality rate. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

The dog days of summer weren’t very dogged this year, at least not in terms of 90-plus degree days. That, combined with a lack of rain, created some ideal conditions for local produce and livestock farmers.

“Overall it has been tremendous for growing,” said Joe Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau. “The quality of produce and fruit is unbelievable, actually. Just really magnificent crops.”  (more…)

09/04/14 8:00am
09/04/2014 8:00 AM
Deer in the backyard of a Southold home. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Deer in the backyard of a Southold home. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Considering the disappointing numbers reported last week from the controversial deer cull that took place earlier this year, a call is going out to get all stakeholders — especially environmentalists — involved as state and regional authorities regroup and figure out a plan to tackle Suffolk County’s overpopulated deer herds.  (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…)