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A Farm Aims for Year-Round Connection, Seeks Worker Housing

Thu, 11/04/2021 - 09:18
Laura Dautzenberg, left, manages Share the Harvest Farm's store, and Meredith Arm is the organization's creative and sales lead.
Durell Godfrey

With a new effort to operate year round, a recently launched virtual store, and a decision to provide housing for some of its employees, Share the Harvest Farm is hoping to make a greater connection with the community it serves.

Staying innovative in these ways will help the farm, a nonprofit organization based on Long Lane in East Hampton, carry out its mission, "which is to grow high-quality produce to donate to food pantries and local feeding programs," according to Kathleen Masters, a Share the Harvest board member. Among the organizations it serves are the Springs Food Pantry, the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry, and the Retreat.

Hunger doesn't take a break in the winter, when the seasonal jobs that employ so many locals put their operations on hold.

"Despite the fact that it's a very wealthy community in some places, East Hampton suffers from very high levels of food insecurity," Ms. Masters said. "There are a great many people who are below the poverty line or who are struggling to put food on the table even if they're not below the poverty line. I think a lot of the people who come here for the weekend don't know that. The food pantries have really been doing yeomen's work in the amount of food that they give out, so these programs are really, really important to the life of the community."

Via the online store, accessible at sharetheharvestfarm.org, customers can buy locally made goods such as breads, jams, pasta, and other prepared foods, chocolates, boxes of produce, coffee, cocktail mixes, soaps, and more. The inventory is curated by Laura Dautzenberg, an East End native who took a break from her graduate school social work studies to come back home during the pandemic.

There will also be gift boxes available for purchase, just in time for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Orders can be placed online by Thursdays at 9 p.m. and picked up at the Long Lane farm stand on Fridays from 3 to 5 p.m. or Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

"The entirety of money spent at the farm stand goes directly to supporting operations," Ms. Dautzenberg said this week, "whether it's having our tractors repaired over the winter or maintaining our hoop houses and the greenhouse, where we look to produce a number of vegetables throughout the winter so that we can continue donating."

The organization recently leased a house in Springs for some of its employees, who will pay an affordable rent. Ms. Masters said that just one week after putting out the call for donations of furniture and other household items, the house has been almost completely furnished. The community response was enormous, she said, so much so that they no longer need any donations. The landlord believes in the farm's mission, Ms. Masters said, and the first employee moved in this week.

"Without housing, it's incredibly difficult to recruit anyone because of the lack of affordable housing out here," she said.

She said Share the Harvest is grateful for all the "really lovely" donations. "It's a wonderful community that we live in."

The farm and the Springs Food Pantry are gearing up for the return of the Chowdah Chowdown, a fund-raiser for both organizations that puts local restaurants' clam chowder recipes on display. It will take place Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Springs Community Church at 5 Old Stone Highway, in a takeout format again this year because of Covid-19.

"Whether you take your chowder home, take it to the beach, or take it to a friend, supporting two local charities couldn't be easier," the organizations said in an announcement, "or more delicious!"

Tickets cost $40 and include four 12-ounce servings of chowder, rolls from Newlight Breadworks, a 16-ounce beer from Springs Brewery, utensils, and a reusable insulated bag. Tickets can be bought at sharetheharvestfarm.org. Among the many restaurants and food shops taking part are Townline BBQ, Almond, the Clam Bar, Breadzilla, Sen, the Seafood Shop, Silver Spoon Specialties, Baron's Cove, and the Amagansett Seafood Store.
 


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