If you live on the East End you’ve heard of EECO Farm. You may have driven by it on Long Lane, opposite East Hampton High School. EECO stands for “East End Community Organic.” Along the road you can see 100 colorful, small-plot gardens. Behind them are 25 acres of farmland.
I went behind the automatic gate for the first time last Saturday. It’s so cool in there! The mellifluous birdsong, the men on small tractors and the hoop houses can all be explained by the EECO pledge that all participants sign—no harmful pesticides or herbicides or fungicides.
The scene took me back to my childhood upstate, everyone who passed shares a wave and a smile, but it’s more like a beehive than open farm country—busy, busy, busy.
In addition to fruit and vegetable crops there are some actual beehives in there—manmade hives tended by Mary Woltz of the Bee’s Needs honey company.
Many farmers you see at our local farmers markets rent land and toil away at EECO, including the crews from Bette & Dale’s Farm and Balsam Farms. It’s a safe place to leave your tools out and it’s a safe place to store your tractor. The local community food movement is alive and well here.
I sat and wrote this column while watching a 17-year-old prep schooler heave compost into a wheelbarrow and then truck it down a few rows and dump it around potato plants, over and over again. He was clearly enjoying the workout. The potatoes will be in season soon and I suspect the prepster will be pleased to get down and dig for ‘em. The cucumbers will also be in soon just a couple rows away and the parsley and basil will be in the markets this week. Local raspberries are already making the scene—sadly, local strawberries are last week’s news. It looks like a good year for tomatoes…
Some spaces seem to concentrate goodness—just like the bottom of a bowl of artichoke soup at Pierre’s (all bacon)…We sure could use more places like EECO Farm and, thankfully, we may soon be getting some. EECO Farm can’t get any bigger onsite, but it’s “taking the show on the road.”
On Wednesday night EECO Farm unveiled a new way to share the love. Over cocktails at Southfork Kitchen restaurant in Bridgehampton, farmers and press gathered to celebrate EECO Outreach. It’s a program to assist schools, other institutions, restaurants and community centers to start—or enhance—their gardens and greenhouses.
This is EECO’s 10th year of operation so even the folks who started out “green” have a lot of knowledge to share. The plan is to spread their expertise to any group or enterprise that requests guidance. This will help EECO realize its mission to demonstrate how sustainable and practical organic farming can be. It couldn’t come at a better time for schools—it’s not just cool for kids to farm nowadays—it’s rock star cool! Work math, science and writing assignments into school gardening and kids eat it up. And with the rising costs of gas and food—community centers are sure to benefit from this boost—not to mention the health benefits for people and the planet!
The cocktail party was organized by Southfork Kitchen owner Bruce Buschel, a long-time supporter of EECO Farm and a restaurateur who buys locally.
You can meet Southfork Kitchen chef Joe Isidori and sample some of his deliciously local dishes at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks on July 14. Check out the many participating restaurants, wineries and food purveyors at www.tasteoftwoforks.com