Health & Environment

Raising livestock a dream come true for Southold couple

Thomas and Brianne Hart purchased their Main Road farm in Southold in December. (Credit: Carrie Miller)
Thomas and Brianne Hart purchased their Main Road farm in Southold in December. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Waking up to do farm chores like feeding pigs, gathering fresh eggs and laying out bedding for a chirping crew of baby chicks is exactly the type of life Southold couple Tom and Brianne Hart, both 29, had dreamed of.

They began raising livestock on rented property in Orient in 2012. And in December, with the support of their families, the Harts realized their dream when they purchased a 10-acre farm on Main Road in Southold, officially establishing Deep Roots Farm. 

The couple started out with little farming experience.

In 2010, Mr. Hart’s mother, Michelle, joined the community garden at the Peconic Land Trust’s agricultural center in Southold and he began helping her out there.

“She has a great green thumb,” he said. “She was definitely the driving force behind the farm.”

See also: Latest farm purchase completes 98-acre ‘ag center’ in Southold

While spending time at the community garden, Mr. Hart met Chris and Holly Browder, who were then part of the young farmer program and were working on their start-up poultry farm, Browder’s Birds.

The Browders took Mr. Hart under their wing, hiring him to work on their farm at the center and teaching him how to raise livestock successfully.

“It was a big relief to have someone local and interested in farming working alongside us,” Mr. Browder said.

“All I had done was garden — I never had any practical experience,” Mr. Hart said. “So working with the two of them was huge. They introduced me to the whole community out here.”

Whenever extra hands were needed, Brianne Hart would fill in and work alongside her husband at Browder’s Birds, which sparked her own interest in and enthusiasm for farming.

Mr. Hart eventually met Phil Barbato of Biophilia Organic Farm in Jamesport, where he interned for a season and learned about organic produce. Using the knowledge they learned from Mr. Barbato, the Browders and other mentors, the Harts farmed in Orient before moving to Southold, where they now raise pigs and chickens for meat and keep chickens for fresh eggs. Eventually, with more capital, they hope to begin growing vegetables as well.

Denise Markut, a stewardship manager at the Peconic Land Trust’s community garden, where Mr. Hart got his start, called it “a perfect connection. You don’t know when you’re going to help inspire someone to go to the next level,” she said.

Deep Roots Farm is located at 57684 Main Road in Southold, west of North Fork Animal Hospital.

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