Friday, May 14, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture on Long Island

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
I have learned about the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) from an excellent book by Jane Goodall "Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating". I have looked it up in various sources. Wikipedia Community-supported agriculture article told me about the history of the movement, US Government Community Supported Agriculture site helped me find local farms through the Local Harvest search page.

For the last couple of years I am a member of the CSA program with the Golden Earthworm Farm in Jamesport. At the beginning of a season, sometime around March-April, I pay about $600 for my share. Every Wednesday between June and Thanksgiving, I pick up a box of fresh vegetables from a designated pick up place, in my case a garage of a gorgeous Victorian house in Cold Spring Harbor.

This is a win-win arrangement. The farm gets the funds to run the operations upfront, I get the local, guaranteed organic produce as fresh and crunchy as possible. The risk of failed crop is spread between the farm and the members which ensures the farm stays in business and continues feeding the hungry Long Islanders like myself.

Golden Earthworm Farm is run by Matthew Kurek, James Russo, and Maggie Wood or, as they facetiously sign their communications, Farmer Matt, Farmer James and Maggie. Their 80 acres of land feed 1,500 member families between North Fork and Queens.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Off the couch

There are tons of interesting things to discover on Long Island. Local newspapers advertise events, park visits, museums, etc.

I have my favorite spots on the island and am on a constant lookout for new ones. Word of mouth is, as always, the best, but if that fails, I refer to a couple of publications.

"Short Nature Walks" by Rodney & Priscilla Albright published by The Globe Pequot Press, contains inviting, short and sweet descriptions of various towns, former estates, parks and preserves, beaches, marshes and bogs, whatever they are.

"Hiking Long Island" by Lee McAllister published by New York - New Jersey Trail Conference, lists established trails. This is a serious hiking guide, taking great care to cover all important information. Admittedly I have only attempted shorter hikes listed there, but they were not disappointing.

If the weather is an issue you may want to pick up "Where to Go & What to Do on Long Island" guide, which lists many historical places, museums and other attractions, greater and smaller, a lot of them indoor. This book is out of print.

Obviously, you can get these and other books from Amazon, but why not try a local bookstore. There are still some around. Since we are on a subject of favorites, my favorite is Book Review in Huntington, a very active bookstore with many famous authors holding book signings there.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Reconnaissance trip #2

At the beginning of March, Jola and I set on a reconnaissance trip #2 to the North Fork. As expected, the drive was extremely enjoyable.

Since wine making is one of the biggest industries on Long Island, we have picked it as our first area of interest. Yes, we were ready to toil for the greater good!

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Makari Vineyards in Mattituck, an award winning winery since 1995, was our first major stop. Here we have met Alexandra Makari, one of the owners of the vineyard, who was very generous with her time and information.

It is always great to see the production side of the winery - the heavy duty equipment, the vast vats (that's a tongue twister for you) and barrels, the lab, and storage areas.

What is visible to the eye at Makari Vineyards - the main building with the tasting room, the observation deck, and event area, are just a part of the well run operations. Sustainable land cultivation with composting of own materials, application of manure collected from neighboring cow and horse farms, as well as environmentally friendly treatment of vines, are what make the vineyard so appealing.

Check out Makari Vineyards' website; it has plenty of information about the vineyard, lists upcoming events, and sports a very active Award & Media section.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Stop number two - Lenz Winery, in Peconic since 1978.

What an auspicious arrival we had; as soon as we have parked the car, we have noticed a pleasant looking couple walking their dog on the border of a vineyard. They happened to be the very two people we needed to meet. Tom Morgan is a Wholesales Representative for Lenz, his wife Mary is an editor of Edible East End.

They were very kind and toasted our visit and success of our project with one of the house's sparkling wines. The tasting room was cool; it looked a bit like a cross between a barn, a general store and a saloon from a Western.

Both Tom and Mary were veritable fonts of information and oozed enthusiasm about East End. We have followed their recommendation and ate a delicious meal at Noah's, a seafood restaurant in Greenport run by chef Noah Schwartz.

We have visited galleries in Greenport, but about that another time.

On the way home, we were discussing our trip, interesting people we met, nice things we have seen and tasted. It was a good and productive day.