When you think of the Hamptons, do you think of boldface names, private jets, multi-million-dollar mansions, and parties you’re not invited to? Think again. Off Route 27, there’s a whole ’nother side of the Hamptons. Drive slowly and you’ll see signs like this, on Old Country Road in Westhampton.
Five dollars? Really? From another angle the handpainted signage is even more enticing.
The roadside table is on the honor system, with a cash box, and the flowers really are five dollars for a big, colorful bunch. The tomatoes are five dollars for a big bag. And they are great.
After making a big hit with my hostess gift of a bunch of zinnias, I biked over the next day and met the owners, Dermit and Carol Corcoran of Corcoran Farm. “My grandfather worked the same land, where he grew beans and hay for the horses and cows,” says Carol. “The plot where the zinnias grow used to be the pasture, so the soil was really rich. We were the first organic farm in the region and the first CSA in New York State. Everybody thought we were crazy.” Dermit moved east from Brooklyn to farm with Carol, and together they’ve built this 10-1/2-acre farm and raised four children.
They graciously took me behind the scenes to see the greenhouses and flats with seedlings. “The plot has new deer fencing,“ Carol pointed out. “For the first time this year, the local deer seem to be enjoying zinnias.” She practically apologized for the size of the zinnias. “After a very cold winter and late start, they finally bloomed and were like dinner plates the other day. The biggest ones have all been picked and sold.” And, Dermit noted, “No chemical fertilizers or insecticides have ever touched this soil.”
This labor of love that starts in early mornings and goes through the evening yields—in addition to the zinnias and tomatoes—peppers, onions, eggplant, herbs, and several other varieties of flowers. Can a family make a living with a small farm like this? Yes, says Carol. “We don’t just sell from the roadside table. We sell at local farmers markets and to restaurateurs who want the freshest organic local produce.”
A daughter is about to be married, and Carol is growing flowers for the bouquets. Guests will be wowed. The five-dollar bunch I bought more than a week ago still looks perfect on the table on our deck. Julius and I will be back tomorrow morning for more—on the way to another beautiful mid-week in Westhampton.