The EECO Farm Stand: Fresh, Nutritional, Organic

It’s not yet well known, but once you’ve stopped at the EECO Farm Stand on Long Lane in East Hampton, run by Food Pantry Farm (FPF), you’ll be back. “It’s unique,” says Darcy Hutzenlaub, Field Manager for the nonprofit Food Pantry Farm, as she insists a lucky visitor try the last of the crop of strawberries. They’re nutritional, organic and better than anything in supermarkets, no matter how fancy conventional berries look. FPF is five years old; the stand opened Memorial Day weekend, but word is spreading that here you get fresh, locally grown organic vegetables and other products, including flowers, and the profits from sales go to help support FPF donations to food pantries and hunger organizations on the East End.

FPF board members, along with FPF founder, director and Farm Manager Peter Garnham, who is a Master Gardener, thought a farm stand could be a way of “supplementing FPF income which relies entirely on generous donations.” And so, with board support, the idea took root. For the board members, support also means feet on the ground. John Malafronte, a former bond salesman on Wall Street (and the recent recipient of the Press News Group Community First Award—he’s too modest to say so himself); Bruce Warr (shown at right with Brandon Daige), a retired statistician with a Ph.D. in German Literature; and Ira-Bezoza, a retired lawyer, seem to live at the farm and at the stand. “Larry, the carpenter” is also on hand, tending to the stand and shed, which houses Paul Muller’s cookies and brownies, Caitlin Baringer’s pies, Kathy and Charles MGarty’s jams and Robyn Blackley’s honey, made from hives on site. He laughingly asked not to be mentioned, but his dedication was so palpable, it’s difficult not to
note it.

The EECO Farm Stand photos by Stacy Dermont

The EECO Farm Stand photos by Stacy Dermont

FPF, whose mission is to grow and donate fresh, organic produce for food pantries, has been especially overburdened in the last few years because of the sluggish economy. It leases 4.25 acres from East End Community Organic (EECO) Farm. EECO Farm, a volunteer nonprofit organization off Long Lane is now celebrating its tenth year. It leases land from the town—
42 acres that are parceled out as 20’ X 20’ plots to individuals and families, and larger pieces of land to commercial farmers, all of whom pledge to abide by the organic guidelines promulgated by the Northeast Organic Farming Association. In turn, EECO Farm provides its gardeners with water, compost and advice. FPF is the only nonprofit tenant at EECO Farm. Community is embraced here, as Darcy says.

The EECO Farm Stand photos by Stacy Dermont

The EECO Farm Stand photos by Stacy Dermont

Although the stand is open only until the end of the summer, a state-of-the-art greenhouse will extend the growing season. Indeed, nestled in seedling trays inside, visitors can already see shoots poking through the soil, a marker indicating that corn is on the way. Darcy, who will become FPF Manager in August, could not be more enthusiastic about the whole enterprise. A New Jersey transplant and former event planner, she became a local, living with Bonackers for a while and becoming passionate about healthy food and caring for those in need. FPF was an inevitable destination. Forget your impression of The Hamptons as America’s upscale playground. There are poor people on the East End who are also proud people, some loath about going to a food pantry, so Darcy is pleased if she can encourage some of them to work at the farm. It’s also heartwarming when young people come on board as farmers. And she is delighted that FPF has been and continues to be the recipient of generous donations.

The EECO Farm Stand photos by Stacy Dermont

The EECO Farm Stand photos by Stacy Dermont

Last year FPF was able to donate 17 tons of fresh, organic produce to five East End food pantries and a women’s shelter. That’s about $3 worth of food for every $1 donated. As for what is sold at the farm stand, he suggests that in comparison with similar places, FPF is “more than competitive.” But who buys from FPF because of the price? There is, indeed, a feel-good spirit about the place. Farm stand workers Kris Bel and Jack Castoro, the only paid workers, tend to bound out joyfully whenever a car pulls up. And when it does, as Darcy, John, Bruce and Ira observe, folks read the mission statement on the wall and nod in agreement. Look for upcoming FPF fundraising activities, including a Run for Hunger around the farm; and a Kickstarter for a Save the Orchard project to restore an orchard and create a permaculture habitat for small livestock
and bees.

 

The FPF stand is open on Fri. Sat. & Sun. from 9–6. For more info, email:
contact@foodpantryfarm.org.

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