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« What's Cookin'? Smithtown - Farm Fresh Bounty - Where to Find | Main | Mosaic In St. James Reopens With Its 5 Course Tasting Menu And More Space »

What's Cookin'? - Smithtown's Farm Fresh Bounty - Supporting Local and Independent

Smithtown’s Farm Fresh Bounty - Supporting Local and Independent

By Nancy Vallarella What’s Cookin’? -Smithtown

Part 1 of 3 part series

2018 is a banner year for local, plant-based food availability in the Town of Smithtown. Kings Park, Nesconset, and Saint James all host markets on the weekend.  Borella’s Farm Stand (St. James) and BB & GG Farms and Nursery (Head of the Harbor), are open 7 days a week. Locally grown vegetables are available until Mother Nature dictates closing. This is usually in late October to mid-November. 

The farm-to-table way of eating is not new or revolutionary. It wasn’t until post World War II, Americans began embracing convenience food. Convenience won out over nutrition, and the diet-related health issues started their epidemic journey. 

During the 60’s and 70’s, the back-to-earth movement of organic, natural food, and “support the local farmer” became groovy.  Convenience once again prevailed over that movement.  America’s waistline continued to grow, and health issues reached epidemic proportions.

Today, many people are paying more attention to what they eat and how it makes them feel.  The good news is there has been a return to a more traditional way of feeding ourselves. The trend of eating locally sourced products opens the door to improved individual health and presents an opportunity to improve the local community, economy, and ecology.  

Earlier this summer, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning has initiated a program designed to support consumers and producers of locally produced products. The initiative is “Choose LI - Choose Local & Independent”. This concept conveys awareness of Suffolk County’s agricultural producers, their products, and artisan value-added products via the ChooseLI.org website.  Consumers are asked to “Take the Pledge”. - The pledge is symbolic. No one is bound to the pledge with terms or conditions.

The theory behind the pledge is if 10% of Suffolk County households pledge 10% of their weekly food budget - $17.60 (New Yorker’s spend $176/week on groceries according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics), that spending over the typical Long Island harvest season would add 19 million dollars into the local economy. The 19 million dollars of direct spending would create 33 million dollars in total economic activity and create nearly 1,000 jobs.

Although the ChooseLI.org website is still under development, there are reasons to take the pledge now.  They are building an inventory of existing farm stands and farmers’ markets, fish markets, vineyards, breweries, cideries, and distilleries in Suffolk County. Taking the pledge will communicate via email upcoming local events, special events, Partner Deals, and informational updates.  See what has been completed: www.ChooseLI.org.

The Community Association of Greater Saint James, volunteer their time and resources to host a market on Saturday mornings featuring local produce to bring the community together attracting commerce and increasing awareness of businesses on Lake Avenue. 

Fink’s at St. James MarketThroughout Long Island, a new breed of restaurant owners are dedicated to buying locally produced food. From the west end of Long Beach to Greenport, farm fresh product is on the menu and Smithtown is no exception. More on that later in part two of this series Smithtown’s Farm Fresh Bounty - Where to Find.

Purchasing vegetables and value-added produced goods (pickles, pies, jams, etc.) from a local farm help preserve the limited open space left on Long Island. The finite amount of land left on this fish-tailed island is valuable and expensive commodity to maintain. Ever wonder why the remaining farmers don’t cash out and leave behind the back-breaking, unforgiving, unpredictable forces of mother nature that dictate their ability to make a living?

Sujecki Farm & Nurseries at King’s Park Farmer’s MarketKing Park Farmer’s Market producer, Jonathan Sujecki of Sujecki Farms and Nursery (Calverton) offered this response, “My family has been farming on the same piece of ground since 1900. When you are on that ground, you can feel the blood, sweat and tears that went into making it survive until today. Not many people are able to say that they know what their great-great-grandfather did.  I can relate to the struggles and the great times that everyone before me went through. The pride of being able to say I’m doing what generations before me did outweigh everything.  Knowing how hard it is, and how hard it was for them. Knowing they were able to make a life doing what they love. That drives me each and every day.” 

It’s National Farmer’s Market weekend. Celebrate by visiting a local market or farm stand. Socialize, talk to the grower. Buy and consume their products and discover how “the timeless values of patience, frugality, loyalty, and community are inimical to the fast food values that pervade the modern world.”- Alice Waters, forward from Unforgettable, The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life. 

Part 2 will be posted next Thursday.

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