The late Lyle Wells was honored posthumously by the New York Farm Bureau last Wednesday, Dec. 5, when he was one of three farmers to receive its highest honor.
“Wells, known as the ‘Asparagus King,’ was a huge cheerleader for agriculture, helping to establish the ‘Grown on Long Island’ marketing program,” the bureau said in presenting Mr. Wells with its Distinguished Service to Agriculture award.
He “worked to preserve farmland amidst growing development pressure on Long Island. He was also active on many community boards and organizations, including having served as Long Island Farm Bureau president,” the bureau said.
Mr. Wells died in a tractor accident at his Aquebogue farm Jan. 25, 2018, at the age of 62.
Rob Carpenter, administrative director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, said that a contingent of about 12 people from the organization attended the awards ceremony and that members of Mr. Wells’ family were present to the accept the award, which recognized his “years of dedication and devotion to the local farm industry.”
Mr. Carpenter said Mr. Wells “was probably the largest asparagus producer that I know of in New York State. He grew over 70 acres of asparagus.”
He also grew sunflowers, zucchini, squash blossoms and other crops.
Mr. Carpenter said Mr. Wells’ son, Matt, has taken over as lead farmer on the family farms.
Mr. Wells himself was a 12th-generation farmer, and his family’s roots on the North Fork date to 1661.
He was also was involved in a number of farming organizations — including the Long Island Farm Bureau, the Riverhead Town Planning Board and the town’s agriculture advisory committee and farm select commission — and was considered a leader in the town’s transfer of development rights program.
Photo caption: (From left to right) Dave Fisher, president NYFB; Frank Beyrodt, Riverhead farmer and presenter of the award; Jessica de Vera Wells, Wells’ daughter; Matt Wells, Wells’ son; Bob Nolan, Long Island representative to NY Farm Bureau board. (Courtesy photo)