Spurred by the pandemic to follow his dream of becoming a farmer, Harry Pinkerton, the new owner of Spring Close Farm in East Hampton, is giving the 1.4-acre plot a fresh start.
"There was like a vortex over this property, this magical feeling that I always had coming here," said Mr. Pinkerton, a Montauk resident who had been toying with the idea of purchasing the farm from its former owners, Darryl and Pamela Glennon, for some time. "I had made offers on it for five years. Not real offers, but I chatted with Darryl and said, 'I'll give you this,' and he said, 'No, it's too low.'"
Mr. Pinkerton's previous career path had been meandering. "I'm one of those people who had cool jobs, but I've always had different jobs," he said. "One year I'm working for a celebrity stylist in California, and then I ended up doing property management for another big celebrity who was bicoastal. I always loved my random jobs, but I knew there was something else out there for me. I was always wondering what my thing in life was going to be."
Shortly after the onset of the pandemic, he moved from New York City to Montauk and left his job. "I was freaking out, I had no idea what I was going to do," he said.
It was last July, while working in his garden in Montauk, that the solution finally clicked. "I was like, 'Yeah I want to buy the farm, it makes sense now. I want to live out east, and working on the land is so therapeutic for me. I need a big project to get me through Covid.'"
Before taking over, he frequented the farm and met with customers. "It's a farm stand for the locals and I really want to keep it that way," he said.
In the fall and winter he started tending to the property. "The ground didn't freeze until January-ish, so I worked from October to January," he said. "Starting at the end of February, early March, that's when I really started tilling the property, putting down the compost, conditioning the soil, and getting ready to plant." He and his family, who also lives in Montauk, did the work themselves. "It really brought us together," he said. Whenever he was faced with a farming problem he did not know how to handle, he would seek advice from either other farmers or Google. "I'd just sit there on my phone, and if I had a question, I'd look it up," he said.
He also spent the time scouting products to sell at the stand, and introducing himself to the farmers who had been supplying the farm stand with extra produce. "I wanted to continue the relationship they had with Darryl, and keep it local, and keep it fresh," he said.
For the first year, he is growing the basics, that is, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, eggplant, sunflowers, peppers, herbs, and flowers. He has 50 chickens, and four ducks, and the property also features a robin's egg-blue trailer, a sitting area, a shed sporting a painted happy face, self-made sculptures, and other Instagram moments, he said.
He has redecorated the farm stand to create an atmosphere reminiscent of "a surfer beach shack or a produce shop on the beach in Ibiza or something," he said. "Everything was my vision, and I brought it to life." He has stocked it with local gourmet products including Vine Street Cafe's vegan Bolognese sauce, Hampton Grocer's granola, as well as exotic favorites such as Fix and Fogg peanut butter, which is made in New Zealand. "I wanted to have cool stuff that other farm stands might not necessarily have," he said.
He occasionally bakes pies and other treats for the stand, but, because his is basically a one-man operation, tending to the crops takes precedence. "I thought it would be great to have a fun little bake shop and farm stand, but I didn't know I was going to fall in love with the farming. Now, that is so consuming."
When he's not in the fields, "I'm having the best time meeting all the customers," he said. "I plan on building a relationship with these people over the years."