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Long Island Farm Bureau honors two longtime members at annual awards gala

The Long Island Farm Bureau honored two longterm members during its 101st annual awards gala Friday night at Polish Hall in Riverhead.

Farmer Jeff Rottkamp of Calverton received the Amherst Davis Memorial Farmer Citizen Award, while Pat Wiles of Cutchogue received the Long Island Farm Bureau Award.

Mr. Rottkamp has been an active member of the LIFB for many years, serving as a board member, treasurer, secretary and as a voting delegate for the annual meeting. He also has participated in lobbying efforts on agricultural issues, according to the event’s host, Bob Nolan, the Long Island representative of the New York Farm Bureau.

The Rottkamp family came from Germany in the 1800s and landed in New York, where they pursued many occupations, including agriculture. The Rottkamps actually started farming in Nassau County and moved east over the years as development pressure increased, according to Mr. Nolan.

Mr. Rottkamp and his family moved to Calverton, where they currently farm 220 acres on Sound Avenue in Calverton.

Mr. Rottkamp has been active in all things agriculture. He serves on Riverhead Town’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, on the Suffolk County Farmland Preservation Committee, the Riverhead Transfer of Development Rights committee, Hallockville Museum Farm’s board and the Long Island Antique Power Association board. His father, Jacob, was also a previous winner of the Amherst Davis award.

Fox Hollow Farms grows tomatoes, melons, rhubarb, asparagus, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, fall crops, sunflowers, strawberries and more. The farm runs “Pick Your Own” strawberry and pumpkin fields. The farm also known for its sweet corn.

Mr. Rottkamp attended St. John’s School in Riverhead and is a graduate of Mercy High School. 

After graduating from high school, he started to work full-time on the farm.

“You could say farming is in his blood and his passion for growing crops is still there today,” Mr. Nolan said. 

Mr. Wiles is currently the branch manager of Farm Credit East. He has served that role for 35 years and he’s been with Farm Credit East for 37 years overall. 

Farm Credit East provides credit, appraisals and financial services for farmers.

Mr. Wiles also is a three-time winner of the Paul Harris Fellow for his contributions at Riverhead Rotary, where he has been a member for 20 years, and has served at the chairman of the “Rotary Uncorked” event for 15 year of those years. He’s also a board member of Camp PaQuaTuck, which helps those with physical and mental disabilities. He has also worked with the Mill Neck School for the Deaf, and is active in many farm, horticulture and wine-related organizations. 

Mr. Wiles is a Cornell graduate with a degree in agricultural economics. His father was a Cornell agent in Tioga County and his family has a part-time farm raising vegetables and livestock with a roadside farm stand.