Shopping & Style

Day Trip With Diane Strecker

The colors, scents and tastes of the East End are in full bloom and flourishing from the Hamptons to Montauk and from Aquebogue to Orient. So, as you travel out east this summer, make sure you take some time to smell the roses. One can easily fill a day perusing the local farms for one’s favorite flowers, fresh fruits and delicious veggies. Visiting the stands out east has become as much a part of East End culture as going to the beach. There is a bounty of sprawling spreads and small specialty stands to choose from, strung along the highways and farm roads alike.

Farming goes back to the earliest origins of the East End. Some of the same families that farmed this land for generations still operate them today. They represent the true local community: people who know, love and work the land. Their knowledge and dedication to what is indigenous here is evident in all the types of food, flowers and foliage that they produce.

As you drive down Montauk Highway to Bridgehampton, you’ll happen upon Hayground Market Farm Fresh Vegetable Stand. You can’t miss their bright bundles of sunflowers, bushels of corn, summer squash and tomatoes piled high, beckoning you to turn in. It is a classic Hamptons stand, busy and bustling, so be patient and park, it is all part of its charm.

Bridge Gardens on Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton is a walking wonderland and a must-see for any botany buff. This exceptional property is open to the public for viewing only. The exquisite grounds display an array of artistic garden designs spread over five acres, including a rose hedge, eight lavender beds and a rose walk. The rose walk includes a collection of 800 antique and modern roses.

If you’re making your way home from Sagg Main Beach you’ll see another East End favorite along the roadside, this one smaller and quainter. Its wares are set out on farm carts. They always have great corn and beautiful bouquets. Fill one of their straw baskets with freshly-picked herbs.

Further east make sure you stop at the Amagansett Farmers Market. This well-known establishment is more than a farm stand—it’s an institution. It has been in existence for decades and has transformed over the years from a market to a meeting place. Here you can experience a blend of organic fare, fish, meats, breakfast and baguettes. Shop the market or sit and enjoy a coffee and croissant. The adjoining eight-acre Amber Waves farm, run under the stewardship of The Peconic Land Trust, is dedicated to providing healthy food and preserving open space in the small village.

If the North Fork is your destination, make a stop in Aquebogue at Wells Homestead. Here you’ll find a hearty variety of colorful annuals and local vegetables, but I usually pick up the fresh homemade mozzarella, yum. They are always picking and replenishing the small bins all day long.

The Bayview Market just up the road in Jamesport is a sprawling indoor-outdoor market where you can find just about everything, from herbs to hydrangeas. Try the hot freshly-roasted corn on the cob or cart away flats of annuals. This season you can even buy fresh oysters. Look for the red antique pickup.

Another favorite is Harbes on Sound Avenue in Mattituck, where you can buy a dozen ears of some of the sweetest corn you’ll ever eat, packaged cleverly in a signature green mesh bag. Let the kids enjoy pony rides or just play in the open field.

Across the street their sister berry farm is surely worth a look. In mid-summer, the bursting-with-color flower bunches are plentiful. Pick one up or pick your own and take home a container of sweet, luscious berries.

If you continue further east toward Orient make sure you hit Lavender by the Bay in East Marion, where the fields are already blooming with 20 varieties of lavender spread out across 10 acres. Wander the fields or visit the shop where you can purchase handcrafted products such as soaps, dried bunches and sachets. The barn where the stems hang drying is an amazing sight and the acres of purple haze in the distance will astound you.

A day touring the farms and fields is a day of peace and reconnection with the natural world. It is an integral part of what makes the East End the East End. There are countless stops on both forks that line the main routes or are tucked tight inside the farmland. So come and lose yourself for a while in the fields of sunflowers, rows of grapes and cornfields that stretch as far as the eye can see.

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