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Life's a Peach—Go Ahead, Pick It

Mon, 07/31/2023 - 14:03
Hayden Soloviev, a 2021 graduate of East Hampton High School and executive with the family business, the Soloviev Group, manages the new you-pick peach orchard at Truxel Farm in East Hampton.
Christine Sampson

It's tomato season, corn season, and peach season on the South Fork. All three are readily available at farm stands, but peaches are in particular abundance thanks to a newly opened you-pick farm on Route 114 thought to be East Hampton's first full-scale peach farm.

At Truxel Farm, eight varieties of peaches grow in neat rows across 22 acres, ripe and ready for picking.

"Why peaches? They're a lot more unique than apples -- there's already tons of places for apples. Peaches are a summery fruit. You have a season that lasts two to three months," said Hayden Soloviev, whose family owns the company that bought the land from the Gardiner family about 10 years ago. Before the planting of peaches there, it had been a tree nursery.

Mr. Soloviev, a 2021 graduate of East Hampton High School and current student at New York University, is managing the peach farm as part of his duties as vice chair and head of the Atlantic region for the Soloviev Group. The company is one of the largest land owners on the East End, as well as the owner of more than 400,000 agricultural acres in Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico, where grain, corn, alfalfa, and other crops are grown, plus 300,000 acres of ranch for "range-reared prime beef," according to its website. The Soloviev Group also maintains at least a thousand acres across Shelter Island and the North Fork, including a Christmas tree farm and a winery, both in Cutchogue.

The peach farm "is at a much smaller scale" than the group's operations out west, Mr. Soloviev said, "but it's of equal value, I believe."

Also at Truxel Farm in East Hampton, customers can find peach honey and traditional honey from Crossroads Apiaries of the North Fork -- though Mr. Soloviev's crew has begun keeping bees at the peach farm for its own future honey harvest, along with a few varieties of nectarines and plums, and big bunches of another quintessential summer crop: sunflowers. There are cherry trees too, but the farm stand opened too late into the season for the cherries to be sold.

Future plans include making and selling preserves and partnering with Crossroads Chocolate on the North Fork for peach-infused sweets, Mr. Soloviev said.

He said the peach farm undergoes minimal spraying for pests. "You have to be careful to not overuse it or misuse it," he said.

During a tour of the farm last Thursday, Mr. Soloviev picked two ripe peaches and offered one to a visitor. Juicy and sweet, it tasted like summer.

The you-pick hours are 9 to 5, Wednesday through Sunday and some Tuesdays.

"Week after week, we're seeing more and more traffic here," Mr. Soloviev said. 

"The best part is the experience, in my opinion," he said later. "I've brought my younger siblings to pick peaches, and I encourage families to bring their kids to pick peaches with them. It's a lot of fun."

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