The Wesnofske family has a history of farming dating back to the early 20th century. Their farming origins began in Queens, but as suburbanization spread, family members settled on a spot immune to the sprawl: the East End.
Today, there are Wesnofskes farming on both forks, in Water Mill and in Peconic. This summer, Wesnofske Farms in Peconic will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, 50 years since the purchase of the farmland in 1967.
Eugene Wesnofske Jr. still runs the Peconic farm his father purchased, with help from his five grown children and his staff. His son Jason is a technology education teacher at Southold High School, but once the school year ends, he comes back to the farm to pitch in, recalling memories of working on the farm as a child.
“We were always here,” Jason says. “We were practically born in the field. We were out here from sun–up to sun–down. They would drop us off here with a list of things we had to get done before we could go home.”
The “family” on the farm extends beyond the Wesnofskes. “We try to treat everyone like family,” Jason says. “We have a lot of repeat clients that come in here and we try to grow what people want.”
When Eugene Wesnofske first bought the farmland in 1967, it was a potato farm. Now, if you stop by the Wesnofske Farm Stand on County Road 48, you’ll find an abundance of fruits and vegetables that have become East End staples.
The Wesnofske’s motto is “If we sell it, we pick it,” so you know you’re always getting the freshest food possible. Like many farms on the East End, Wesnofskes’ top crop is corn. They also sell tomatoes, blueberries, peaches, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon and other fruits. Among the countless vegetables they sell are zucchini, asparagus, eggplants, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and onions. Fresh herbs like basil and dill are scattered across the farmland, as are flowers, which are made into beautiful bouquets. They even grow hops that are used by local beer brewers. In all, Wesnofske Farms grows about 35 different crops on 50 acres of land.
In fact, Jason says, “We try almost anything once. We listen to our customers. They say ‘Hey, why don’t you try to grow some special flat beans or romanesco cauliflower,’” and sure enough, the seeds will be planted.
Of course, there are still potatoes. “My father can’t let go of potatoes, that’s where his heart is, that’s where he started,” Jason says.
If you can’t make it to Peconic, chances are you’ll encounter Wesnofske produce somewhere closer to you. They currently sell at seven farmers markets from Northport to Montauk, and they supply a variety of eateries on the South Fork, including Tutto il Giorno in Southampton, Bay Kitchen Bar in Springs, Nick and Toni’s in East Hampton, Rick’s Crabby Cowboy Café in Montauk and the Springs General Store.
“We wouldn’t be able to survive without all the good help. All of our family pitches in, as well friends and staff,” Jason says. Jason and his wife, his brother Ryan and his sister, along with family friend Reggie, who runs the farm stand, and many others help ensure Wesnofske Farms runs smoothly and delivers the freshest produce to customers.
Farming is hard work, and even though Jason admitted his childhood spent in the fields wasn’t always fun, he says, “It’s rewarding when someone comes back to you and says ‘Oh my God I really love these tomatoes’ or this peach or a bouquet of flowers. Or ‘I bought this tomato plant from you and look at it now!’ That’s very endearing.”
Stop by Wesnofske Farms at 36450 County Road 48 in Peconic or at a farmers market near you for a taste of 50 years on the East End.