Local farms ready to serve the public

Linda Leuzzi
Posted 4/2/20

Deer Run Farms

By 9:15 a.m. last Thursday, Valerie Nolan was busy taking phone orders.

“We had 50 phone orders yesterday,” said dad Bob Nolan, owner and head of operations for …

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Local farms ready to serve the public

Deer Run Farms

By 9:15 a.m. last Thursday, Valerie Nolan was busy taking phone orders.

“We had 50 phone orders yesterday,” said dad Bob Nolan, owner and head of operations for the 33-acre Deer Run Farms, carrying produce cases with his son, Sammy. Their small, attractive covered farm stand had neat rows of over 50 gleaming, fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs. Rows of bottled pickled offerings were stacked neatly, along with fruit pies from Olish Farms, honey, yogurt, butter and cheese products. There were Farmers Daughter cookies (10 different kinds made by Valerie), homemade fudge and small gift items like memorial stones with hand-painted birds and lavender sachet bundles created by mom, Janet Nolan. The farm stand actually opened Valentine’s Day from Wednesday to Sunday and remains committed with adjusted hours for 11 months out of the year up to Christmas. Memorial Day starts the heavier schedule, but now phone orders were taking precedence.

“That availability list is on our Facebook page,” explained Bob Nolan, pointing to it over the gorgeous cauliflower heads. “People take a photo of the list, choose, and then phone.” Orders are bagged and left on an outer bench for pickup. Valerie and Janet, the counter staffers who create the bright, welcoming ambiance, greeted customer Neil Stark, from East Patchogue, as he came in.

“They’re the best,” Stark said, maintaining the 6-foot distance. (Customers have been conscientious about the edict.) Located at 282 South Country Road, Brookhaven, Deer Run Farms is open Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; phone is 631-707-2195. They’re also on Facebook and Instagram.

The H.O.G.

“Rake mulch on asparagus aisles.”

The chalked reminder on Sean Pilger’s blackboard last week was just one of the tasks needed at The H.O.G., Hamlet Organic Garden.

Inside the 90-foot-long greenhouse sat 129 trays of seedlings, their tender shoots unfolding. “We started with onions the end of February,” said Pilger, the farm’s manager. “We have lots of them, also broccoli, kale, swiss chard, lettuces and fennel.” More seedlings were being nurtured at his home. “Today we’re planting peas, fava beans and possibly arugula and salad greens, if the soil dries up enough,” he added.

Dogs Luke and Oscar greeted each other with a tail happy dance, if you will, when Pilger stepped outside for a minute,

Pilger grows over 300 types of crops on a 9-acre area in Brookhaven hamlet, and despite the coronavirus pandemic, another season of vegetables need tending.

The H.O.G. farm stand traditionally opens Mother’s Day; this year it’s May 9, and then every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Memorial Day starts the 22-week co-op crop pickup full tilt, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Besides supplying restaurants, the farm’s operation offers a sweet community hub in this neck of the woods and it’s one of the issues Pilger has to plan for.

“I’m following my crop schedule and paying my workers,” he said of the seven he has on board. “On the positive end, you’d hope more people will join the co-op shares and shop more here. But that would involve a different system, like how would we handle packing orders. It’s infrastructure decisions like that, but I’d rather have things planted and then figure out what’s the next thing to do.”

A robust surge of 150 families have already signed up for shares out of a possible 200. (As Community Supported Agri- culture, The H.O.G. offers varied fresh, in-season produce weekly for a fee during the season, picked up at the farm.) “We may start earlier,” he said. “And the hours might be expanded to help people spread out.” Extra co-op shares may also be added. And because the crops in excess usually went to restaurants, now closed, Pilger may offer a short-term delivery service to widen the net.

Pilger and his staff began preparing the soil the beginning of March. He keeps a coop of chickens for organic eggs; another has broiler chickens.

The farm has significant historical roots; it has been growing organic produce since 1996. Brookhaven Town purchased develop- ment rights from Cedric and Lyda Puleston, the grandchildren of environmentalists Dennis and Betty Puleston, in 2008, with Pilger as its manager.

People love you, it was pointed out, because they want normalcy, continuity and decent, ethical farming.

Pilger acknowledged a genuine gratefulness to continue what he loves doing. “This is what local community is all about,” he said. “So if we’re going to be relied on, we have to step up to the challenge.”

For updates and more information, visit; on Instagram it’s the.hog. farm. The H.O.G. Farm is located at 319 Beaver Dam Road in Brookhaven.

Mama Farm

“A lot of people have been demanding organic food,” said Isabella Rossellini, owner and founder of Mama Farm. “We closed the farm to visitors. We have acquired surgical masks and are using them and gloves.” Rossellini raises heritage chickens for eggs, bees for their honey, and as a CSA, offers co-op shares. She leases land to farmer Patty Gentry.

“Patty has 65 shares,” she said. Gentry, daughter and executive director Elettra Wiedemann and son Roberto, are currently working with Rossellini.

“Elettra has made an agreement with two farms to offer meat, chicken and goat cheese, and we’ll be making bread. We have about 50 families,” said Rossellini. “Bellport High School has rented land here and the students cannot come, so we’re taking care of their land and organized five shares of honey, meat and vegetables that can feed 15 people for a week. Last week we brought shares to the customers by dropping them on their doorstep.”

While there are some customers in the Moriches, for the long run, “we might be able to distribute directly to Bellport High School and the Bellport, Brookhaven communities and then for farther away, in front of our gate. But so far we’re able to bring a package to our CSEA members.” As for the future, “there’s a big request,” she said. “People want the food and we’re grateful, but it’s `how much can we produce?’ For now, there is still room for more shares; 50 percent of Patty’s work is for restaurants, so she has more food. My chickens and honey are maxed and the little bit we have left we will bring to the school.” Mama Farm is located at 287 South Country Road, Brookhaven. For more information, visit


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