Couple growing a dream at Cedar Grove Farm in Aquebogue

05/25/2017 6:00 AM |

Cedar Grove Farm, located on a few acres of cleared land in the woods in Aquebogue, is kind of like a Shangri-La for farm-to-table enthusiasts.

Specifically, it’s a fertile wonderland for chefs Kyle Romeo and Amanda Falcone, who hope to one day use it to source food for a future restaurant. But for now, it’s where the couple grows leafy vegetables, juicy raspberries and raises two heritage pigs every season, which provide them with enough pork to last the year.

“I’ll never forget, as a chef, the first time driving down here, my mouth just dropped open,” recalled Mr. Romeo, who is executive chef at American Beech in Greenport. “This is paradise.”

The land is owned by Ms. Falcone’s parents, who also reside there. Her father, Les, has been changing the operation from a wholesale plant business into a vegetable and animal farm. He and the couple have slowly repurposed greenhouse siding into raised vegetable beds, planted additional fruit trees and built a chicken coop. He is even growing mushrooms in the middle of a bamboo patch.

“I’ve always been a gardener, but we’re expanding the beds,” Mr. Falcone explained. “I’m practicing to see how much I can grow for the restaurant.”

What’s unique about this North Fork farm is that it’s not planted in row crops and, unlike most East End fields, it’s surrounded by towering trees.

Chickens inspect a garden bed at Cedar Grove Farm in Aquebogue. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

The rest of the five-acre Union Avenue property features other amenities for entertaining, including a sauna, smoker and pizza oven. All were built by Mr. Falcone using spare materials rather than purchased goods.

“Les doesn’t buy anything unless he really has to,” Mr. Romeo said.

One day, Mr. Falcone also hopes to offer tours and classes in subjects like bread making and mycology on the farm.

The property began to take its current form when the couple started preparing it for their 2015 nuptials. They sourced much of the food for their reception there, including all the salad greens. They were married in a field of rye on the farm.

“Before the wedding we had a lettuce-washing party,” Mr. Romeo said.

Today, Mr. Romeo and Ms. Falcone live with their 4-month-old son, Bennet, just around the corner in a recently built 3,586-square-foot home on Main Road.

The long-term plan is to turn the first floor of that building, located just west of the Wells farm stand, into a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. They live in a second-floor apartment.

19 raised beds growing spinach, gooseberries, sugar snap peas and more at Cedar Grove Farm in Aquebogue. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

It likely wouldn’t be cost effective to grow all the food for the restaurant at the farm, but the couple hopes to source as much as they can and to highlight their produce on the menu.

“We probably won’t grow potatoes for our french fries,” Ms. Falcone said. “But we will plan the menu around what’s in season.”

The Riverhead Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the proposal at its July 6 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

Although it will be some time before the restaurant might open its doors, the family notes the plans are falling into place — and they are enjoying the process of getting there.

“It’s very peaceful,” Mr. Falcone said of life on his property. “I’m living a dream. I never imagined that life could be this good.”

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Top photo: Les Falcone, Kyle Romeo, Bennet Romeo and Amanda Falcone at Cedar Grove Farm in Aquebogue. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

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