Orient family now revitalizing old farm in Calverton

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Steve Mezynieski with his wife Gretchen and son Cole, 16, at their new venture- transforming the former 42.5 acre Zeh farm in Calverton on Route 25 for growing nursery material and possibly grazing cattle.

During the Great Depression, Steven Mezynieski’s family was forced to sell off its South Fork farm. Now, generations later, the Wainscott native and Orient resident is piecing together a new agricultural legacy for his own children. And a dilapidated farm in Calverton is the latest tract to join the Mezynieskis’ growing collection of acreage.

Mr. Mezynieski and his wife, Gretchen, purchased the former Zeh property on Middle Country Road about a month ago and have been working over the past few weeks to fix up the forgotten farm.

“I like to see diamonds in the rough and make them diamonds,” he said.

The roughly 43-acre property, across from the Windy Acres farm stand, was previously owned by the Zeh family, but laid unused for years. The Mezynieskis said the property was littered with garbage when they arrived.

“If you came here three years ago you would’ve turned your car right around,” said Frank, who used to work the farm and has become friendly with the land’s new owners. He declined to give his last name. “Words can’t tell you how bad it was,” he said.

The family has cleared away much of the mess and begun recultivating the soil on the hilly land. A pile of torn-up trees sits next to a tin barn and the lawn in front of the vacant farmhouse is dusty and dry. The house will remain, for now, and may be renovated later, Mr. Mezynieski said.

This isn’t the Mezynieski family’s first investment in farming. They also own Driftwood Farms, a 140-acre property in Orient where they raise cattle and grow privet hedge for landscapers and private buyers. The family also purchased a cattle farm in Florida in 2005.

Mr. Mezynieski said he’ll also grow privet and raise cows in Calverton, and may feature a nursery. The goal, the Meznieskis said, is to leave something for their three children: Cole, 16; Mack, 10; and Anastasia, 5.

“Each of the kids will have farms when they get older,” Mr. Mezynieski said.

The oldest sibling, Cole, was 10 when his family bought the Orient farm. Now he is helping to get the new property ready for farming.

“I think I like this one the best,” he said as he drove a pickup up and down the steep hills around the property. Cole said he’d like to try to grow some different crops at the farm to add “diversity.”

Cole said he is looking forward to working on the farm; for the teenager, farming is in his blood.

“I never figured I’d do anything else,” he said.

[email protected]