Widgets Magazine

From Hop Heads to Farm Brewers - Jamesport Farm Brewery

After a successful first year opening, horticulturalists turned brewers Melissa Daniels and Anthony Caggiano are getting closer to their goal of becoming a fully self-contained farm brewery. Their operation, Jamesport Farm Brewery, is the one of the only producers on Long Island to grow both the hops and barley required for making beer on-site.

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“We started with a small patch,” said Caggiano. “We sent it in [for analysis] to make sure everything was good - and it worked out pretty well. So then the next year we did a little bigger, and the third we did even bigger, 18,000lbs - which was our biggest crop yet. This year we’ll double it. Last year we had approx. 18,000lbs and this year we’ll have 50,000lbs.”

Under New York state law, producers operating under a farm brewery license will be required to grow 60% of the hops and grains used in their beverages by the year 2019. JBF is already using up to 80% of its own farm grown ingredients. According to Daniels and Caggiano, with the new law there is a need for more hops and barley to be grown in New York. “We had a grain conference up in Syracuse last year, and the question was – Are the growers in NYS going to be able to produce enough barley to give all the farm brewing licenses enough grain to hit the 60% mandate by 2019? And the answer is, yes.”

Daniels explained “There are lots of new hop farms and barley producers popping up in NYS because of the farm brewer’s license, and Cornell is working on barley and hops that grow well in New York so that farmers can do a better job.”

Caggiano believes that Long Island is a special place to grow barley as the crop has historically done well in climates with close proximity to large bodies of water. “Some of the best barley comes from Britain,” he explained which is near the ocean and we’re near the ocean on both sides - so this soil here has been bombarded with salt air for thousands of years. Scotland has the best malts in the world.”

In addition to using their own barley and hops, the team also grows their own pumpkins and raspberries which eventually make their way into specialty brews. They offer 10 beers at the brewery currently and well as their own cider. Rather than selling cans to retail stores, the two are sticking with the farm business model for the time being. “We’re focusing on the tasting room experience,” said Caggiano. “Our guests like the local farm experience. We do have some kegs out at a few local restaurants. We do a fair amount of crowler [large can format] and growler business. The crowler is new as of 2016, it’s re-sealable and has no glass so you can take it to the beach.”

On September 22nd Daniels and Caggiano will host their third annual “Fresh Hop Fest” which will feature food, live music, farm games, and a competition between local brewers to produce the best-voted fresh hopped beer.

 

Old Orchard Farm Store - An Authentic North Fork Time Capsule

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Old Orchard Farm Store is an unassuming little art & antiques shop on a quiet street off of Main Road in Orient. Owners Bob & Leslie Black are a husband and wife team that share a passion for collecting – particularly pieces of vintage impressionist art of Peconic Bay and the surrounding area.

“That’s kind of our specialty. We find vintage Peconic Bay art and we bring it back to the area, whether it’s in Florida or Tennessee, we’ve found art as far away as the state of Washington.”

 Alphabet of Maritime signals 

Alphabet of Maritime signals 

Their store is a love letter to all things vintage, nautical and local to the North Fork of Long Island. Every shelf, stand, and table is covered with unique treasures: hand painted oyster plates made by UPW at the turn of the century, original linen maps from the early/mid-1800s, even bespoke furniture made by friends using reclaimed wood and local materials. On the walls, paintings by Carolyn Bunn, James Napoleon and other local artists.

 Original map of Orient from 1842 - the region was called Oyster Pond Point

Original map of Orient from 1842 - the region was called Oyster Pond Point

The couple originally purchased the store in the 80’s. Bob says “My wife is third generation out here, we started this business in 1981 when we were dating. We sold a lot of country things back then but we were interested in collecting art and antiques. Then we got married and left the area - fast forward 30 years and we’re back. We always had our eye on coming back because we had the family house and we are getting it ready now for the next generation. Hopefully we just keep that going.”

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By the time Bob and Leslie returned they had honed both their tastes and their knowledge of art, bringing a new focus to the Old Orchard Farm Store, and the business took off. “This thing exceeded our expectations triple fold, but were OK, we can keep the pace. We love hunting, finding, and bringing back things that are coastal/nautically inspired – anything that has a Long Island / North Fork sensibility to it. You know what were about when you’re in our shop.”

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The store now stays open until December, with two or three art shows throughout the season. “I really didn’t think I’d be having art shows with contemporary artists I just thought I’d play with the vintage collectables. But there’s so much talent out here, there are so many artists. Carolyn Bunn, James Napoleon. We got Alan Bull coming in. There so many phenomenal people.”

This Saturday the store is hosting the Opening Reception for an art show for Alan Bull, an artist who now lives in Newburyport MA and has an extensive repertoire of paintings featuring the North Fork. The exhibit, titled “North Fork Light” opens 5-7pm on August 11.

Check out Old Orchard Farm Store on Facebook here and on instagram @oldorchardfarmstore

Old Orchard Farm Store
1240 Village Lane Orient NY, 631 323 8083
Open 10-4pm

oldorchardfarmstore.com

Video: Interview with Paolo Bartolani, Founder of Rites of Spring

purchase tickets here

NFN: Paolo this is your third year with the Rites of Spring Music Festival, how has it been going?

PB: the festival has been growing as is our audience. We are also growing in terms of events, because we started 3 years ago in 2016 when was just four events – but the concept remains the same. The idea is to organize and present classical and contemporary music in multiple locations/venues. Normally I like to discover new locations, and the location becomes part of an artistic proposal- because each event is site specific.

This year we have 8 concerts from Riverhead to Orient on the North Fork and also in Quogue Wildlife Refuge, the format is to combine music with our natural environment and history. We have good partnerships with Stonybrook Music Department, and also Hofstra University and Pianofest in the Hamptons. This partnership for the festival is important because we can invite professional musicians, but also young professionals. We try to discover new talented musicians.

NFN: So for somebody who doesn’t know anything about the festival, how would you describe the types of music you are bringing to your audiences? It’s very eclectic. How would you describe the differences?

PB: The focus is always on presenting classical music, but in a new way. Not academic, not old fashioned – the idea is to involve a new generation to classical music, and how to attract a new young audience. It’s quite difficult for everybody, but the combination of an unusual venue and a unique music product are also quite interesting and original. That combination is successful.

NFN: I saw that for this Saturday your performer is a lutenist, what is a lutenist?

PB: It’s not easy to listen to a lute, because lute is part of big a family of ancient musical instruments. Christopher Morrongiello is one of the refined musicians of renaissance and baroque music, and he will perform our recital with different kinds of lutes. The product is about English, Scottish, French and Italian songs – renaissance songs. The important thing to discover the instrument – the sound. Chris is also a professor at Hofstra University, and he is able to present and explain each piece, so it’s like an introduction to renaissance music.

NFN: That’s really interesting. So people who come to the event on Saturday will understand more about the lute, not only how to play it but why, the history behind it – you get an education a history lesson as well.

PB: It’s not really education because that’s not our goal right now – but it’s a way to introduce or connect to the audience. All concerts have a conversation, before the concert we have a music conversation and normally a musician or the composer, or we can invite a specialist and just converse with the musician to introduce the concert. What we like to do is also have feedback from the audience.

NFN: I think you have a headline event, based on what I saw last year. This is your final event at Laurel Lake Vineyards and you’ve got Masha Carrera coming back, doing quite a fantastic show. Tell us a little bit more about some of the songs we can expect to hear from this event, what’s in store?

PB: We call this final event Opera Night concert, and for sure we have a beautiful soprano from Italy, from Rome. The product is a little bit of an opera, but it’s also important to live this experience because the music is presented on this beautiful terrace overlooking vineyards during sunset. After the concert we have dinner. Mostly we perform Bellini and Rossini and Italian opera composers. What is new this year is we have another beautiful musician, Tomoko Fujita, on the cello. It’s like a second voice – but it’s not a human voice, it’s the cello – and cello has a conversation with soprano.

NFN: I can’t believe you can take an amazing event that I saw last year, and made it even better. It sounds like it’s going to be amazing! Congratulations Paolo.

Mattitaco Comes to Mattituck

When it comes to Mexican cuisine on the East End, few people have more Taco Tuesdays under their belt than Justin Schwartz of Noah’s on the Road. His shiny airstream and farm-to-food truck tacos are a regular sight on the North Fork all summer long. This year he’s planting roots in Mattituck, with the opening of his new restaurant, Mattitaco, in the space formerly occupied by the Crazy Fork. 


“We’re definitely going to serve different stuff here,” said Schwartz. “The food truck menu changes on an almost daily basis. Mattitaco will have a consistent menu and specials.” While the focus at the restaurant will be mainly on tacos (of course), he plans on featuring a burrito of the week, torta of the week, tostada of the week, and even a weekly ceviche. “Ceviche has got to be super fresh and you’re not always getting the same stuff out of the water,” Schwartz explained. “Whatever the fishermen are pulling in that we can work with, be it bay scallops, sea scallops, [red] drum or bass - there are so many different fish that make an awesome ceviche.”
Schwartz has a passion for featuring ingredients sourced from local producers whenever possible, and his new restaurant will be no different, with slow-cooked barbacoa made from goats raised at 8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue, and pork sourced from Deep Roots Farm in Southold. “I sent all the farms my wish list for this year,” admits Schwartz. “Peppers and peas and beans, and some stuff that will take forever, it won’t be available this year but it’s a wish list for people to say ‘Oh I always wanted to grow that, but didn’t think there was a demand for it.’ Well alright – I’ll demand it.”


One of Schwartz’s more ambitious goals is to produce his own tortillas from North Fork grown corn. “I have the machine, but I don’t have the right kind of corn yet. I’m trying to get corn that’s not GMO, or considered a feed grade. Michelle from Deep Roots is planting that this year, so this coming winter we’ll be able to get corn from Deep Roots and a couple of other farms that is a heritage or heirloom variety, and we will nixtmalize it and make our own tortillas in house.”


In addition to freshly made tacos Mattitaco will feature a tap system where customers can fill up on cold brew from Ace Coffee Co., or sample five different flavors of kombucha by Mombucha – both produced on Long Island. “We’re going to offer our own growlers, half growlers, and pints, so trying to be a little more environmentally conscious.”
Mattitaco is set to open mid-June on Tuesdays and Thursdays for breakfast and lunch; Friday, Saturday and Sunday for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Exploring White Space at VSOP Art & Design

We went to VSOP to talk to speak with Jonathan Weiskopf and Jacqueline Ferrante about her first solo exhibition, which is currently on view at VSOP Art & Design Projects. Jacqueline is a resident at the Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn. Her work includes textural layered compositions and photography focused on “the relationship between color, texture, and form as they change over time.”

Her first solo exhibition is a departure from her pervious works which are typically quite colorful, and focuses almost entirely on white – thus inviting the viewer to focus primarily on textures and layers to grasp the meaning of the work.

NFN: So this is an exploration series?

Jacqueline: This is an exploration where the painting is a little more minimal in terms of color, and how the color white, or white with another color, can by small changes really make a difference – whether towards the coolness of white, or how the white may feel a little warmer. I’m also very interested in layering and texture, building up and breaking down the paint.

NFN: Its interesting how some of these appear to represent things even though it’s an abstract painting – like this one to me looks kind of like a snowy mountain range.

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Jonathan: That is a beautiful and important observation. I refer to these pieces as topographical. Pictorially they are all purely abstract, there is no representation here, but many of them are so familiar visually right? If you spend any time flying and looking out the window. Some of them are so familiar to me either from sky or sea.

NFN: It also tricks me because from far away it looks like elevations in the whiter part, and lower areas in the darker part - but physically the reverse is true.

Jonathan: So it seems kind of illusionary? These areas that appear flat are more foreground.

NFN:  It just plays a trick with my mind I think because of the white, which you usually associate with being higher from a topographical point of view, because there are no shadows, and the darker area seems lower, like where the shadows begin. But actually on the painting the darker area is the thicker more layered part.

Jacqueline: Yes, because most of the layering is in that section.

Jonathan: that’s where most of the three dimensional layering comes into play. Yes, that does reveal itself as you bring yourself toward the piece.

NFN: See? I can talk about art stuff…

Jonathan: I think when you surrender this idea that you have to have a certain vocabulary for the paintings to work for you, you’re able to really access it on your own terms. Some of us have a more established academic knowledge about art – the history of it, the kind of established language of art. But abstract pictures challenge you to do a lot more work than things that are representational, which give many more answers to your questions. With an abstract work, you arrive only with your history, with the pictures you’ve seen before.

Jacqueline: I also like to think in terms of the history, and the way that things have changed over time. In a way recalling those memories, or things that we’ve seen – is part of what inspires me – these textures that we see in urban landscapes – these textures that have decayed over time or been painted over, walked over.

NFN: The patina of the world.

Jacqueline: Right, like how those kind of images can be beautiful, but unnoticed – so in a sense I’m kind of recalling that history in the work too.

Jonathan: Her works are all rooted in this way of seeing, which kind of exposes these hidden or undiscovered or overlooked layers upon layers of material, of surface, of stickers, paint, bark, rust.

Jacqueline: Those moments in time you pass by don’t notice, or sometimes you do, but its kind like - just stop and take a breather.

Jonathan: One of the important roles of an artist as our lives become faster moving, and potentially less satisfying – the role of artists and I think one of the greatest successes of the work here is that it slows us down. It’s a slower look.

"White Paintings" by Jacqueline Ferrante is on view at VSOP Art & Design Projects until May 21

Check out her artist talk May 12 at 2pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Ensemble Cast of North Fork Artists at Jonathan Weiskopf & Dena Zemsky's Winter Salon

GNF: Tell me about Winter Salon.JW: Winter salon is a new model for me and it’s a brand new opportunity for me to become acquainted with many of the best known long time North Fork resident artists. A lot of those introductions came to me through Dena, who is one of those best known, long-time Greenport resident artists. She is very deeply engaged with many of the other artists here and aware of / involved in this longstanding tradition of the winter salon in Greenport, which I think hasn’t taken place in a number of years. That’s what we have modeled this exhibition after.

DZ: in the 90’s there was another artist and homeowner who was in the commercial district over by First Street and he opened a gallery - he had wonderful shows there, mostly by artists on the North Fork, and I mean those were really mostly from new Suffolk to Orient, very, very close. They were a great success and they were a great community builder. So when I approached Jonathan when I met him after he had his second show, I said how about we do this? And he took to the idea, and we decided to co-curate it and it was also a great way for him to meet the more serious artists in this area, and the people. Many of whom came out here as part timers and now live here full time.

GNF: So you two met earlier this year I assume when Jonathan started the VSOP exhibitions?

JW: Yes early in the summer, shortly after the opening reception of the second exhibit.

DZ: It was the next day, I came in and just welcomed him to the community. I was so happy that someone wanted to come in and do a serious art gallery and not a store, not a craft store or something. And I invited him to see my work if I wanted to.

GNF: So you have 24 artists, all local ish…

JW: 24 East End artists, two from the South Shore, and a couple of artists from the great Long Island arts community, and many from Orient to New Suffolk & Mattituck.

GNF: And once again it’s a nicely eclectic mix of media.

JW: Yes, that’s one of the most important things for me here is to bring a very interdisciplinary approach to curating an art experience.

DZ: The other thing that has been great about this show is that Jonathan has finally been able to utilize his garden as a sculpture garden, so Arden Scott has three sculptures in the back.

JW: This is my first foray into housing large scale outdoor sculpture, these three pieces are by Arden Scott who is one of the most beloved North Fork, Greenport artists, and she’s agreed to let us live with these pieces through the winter.

GNF: Doesn’t she have a studio up by Bridge Street? I think she lives next to one of my good friends. Sort of like ship inspired sculpture.

JW: Yep, you’ve probably seen these pieces out in front of her studio.

DZ: She is a master sailor also, so she’s inspired by the sea, and we also have one of her beautiful pieces by the window.

JW: Another very important thing is that the art is involved in the revitalization of the roller rink right on Third Street here – their massive efforts to bring back the old building there. So we are donating half of the proceeds to that effort to revitalize it.

GNF: that’s cool, I love skating!

DZ: I have to tell you when I first moved here and my daughters were small, because I’m here 24 years, we went roller skating there it was great. And they had girl scouts were there and everything, it was a great place but the infrastructure fell apart so they’ve been doing fundraising for a long time. They just renamed it after one of our beloved citizens who died prematurely, so I’m not sure exactly what the name is now.

JW: Its Burton Potter – Lets Skate Again is the name of the effort towards bringing that space back to what it once was. We’re excited in participating in another community project like that.

GNF: are you half and half in this collaboration or is it or would you say it mostly Dena or yourself?

JW: No we’re co curators, Dena made all of the introductions to the artists for me. Together we did 25 studio visits, once with each of the participating artists. That was an amazing opportunity for me to become far more aware of and knowledgeable about how art is made out here – in which many cases were big eye opening and encouraging moments for me. Because my model here is that I bring in work from artists from around the world, and this is my first exhibition with a large number of local artists, and as a small local business its super important for me to know how art is made here - specific to this area. I mean there is a rich history of art making on the North Fork. This was a huge eye opener for me.

DZ: And it’s really the tip of the iceberg, there are so many others, and so many other galleries out here that are showing people, you know there are much more than 24 people. But it was a nice introduction and it opens the possibility for Jonathan to have long term relationships with different people going forward. He can still have his model but, maybe have one or two shows a year that are local people.

JW: I absolutely see it extending to where I have many of these artists participating in the gallery year round.

GNF: What about yourself? Can we expect a new Jonathan Weiskopf original in the future?

JW: Certainly not an exhibition of my work, though I am including a piece in the show, a lighting piece that I designed – so that’s being installed.

GNF: Nice.

DZ: I’ll just keep encouraging him to also make art!

GNF: Can I ask you what the price range is? You mentioned in the release it was an affordable art show.

JW: Yes, so the work spans from under $100 to you know, $18,000 for one of Arden’s outdoor sculptures

GNF: That’s if you can one through the door.

JW: They disassemble for transport.

DZ: But there are a great deal of works below $1000, most of it’s below, and a good chunk is in the $100 – 500 range. So you know, it’s kind of all over. Also what we try to do with some of the artists whose work is in other galleries and sells for a lot higher numbers, we ask them to include some pieces that are affordable, so if you loved an artist you could say “Well I can’t afford her $3,000 piece but I can afford a $300 piece.” We encourage the artists participating to give people the opportunity to start collecting them at a number they can afford and then you know, once they get it home they love it so much they decide they have to save up for the other one.

GNF: That’s how you get them started

DZ: Yep.

JW: Dena also had this ingenious idea for the show which is that many of the artists have extensive exhibition histories locally, and Dena made a point selecting work from many of those artists that may be a little less typical. Some of it may be surprising to people who have seen their work on exhibition over the years. You know, Dena being far more knowledgeable about the body of work that artists have produced over the years, has had her eye on work that would be a little bit more surprising to people who collect frequently.

GNF: So the salon used to be a Greenport tradition?

DZ: Well I don’t know if you’d call it a tradition, we did them for about four years. Geoffrey Leven had his art gallery called the Yellow House in a commercial space during the 90s – many of the artists in this show used to be in his gallery and thought, “Remember when we used to do those salon shows it was such a great experience!” The other thing reason why I wanted to call it the Winter Salon, was that I wanted to key into the (which is a real tradition) salon show experience. Going back all the way to France, you know the great salon shows there where you would have a lot of artists and a lot of work, hanging almost floor to ceiling. I also took a recent trip to the Barnes collection and he shows that way at the Philadelphia History Museum – the walls have become these wonderful – what was his word? Assemblages of work.

JW: Ensembles – took me a moment!

DZ: Ensembles, that was his word – so that was a real inspiration for me for hanging it, and I felt very strongly that once we got all the work together, we could start to create these rooms with a lot of art, and not having it feel busy but feel like – an ensemble.

JW: And have real conversations between the work of these artists - who may or may not know each other, who may or may not have exhibited together in the past – it’s an amazing opportunity for these works to be in conversation with each other. The style of the presentation affords us, and the works that possibility.

GNF: So almost 25 artists, about how many will be present for the reception?

JW: Just about all of the artists will be present here.

DZ: One of our artists, one of our young local women who grew up here, Patience Pollack, she’s in New Mexico.

GNF: Any relation to Jackson Pollack?

DZ: No, I think everybody asks her that, but she grew up here in Greenport, she happens to be in the Southwest right now. One of our other key artists is also a very accomplished musician and he’s preforming this weekend so that’s unfortunate. But I think everyone else will at least stop by!

GNF: That really is an ensemble for sure, in every sense of the word.

Nothing but Local - Chef Taylor Knapp Discusses the Paw Paw Pop-up Experience

Back in June we met up with Taylor Knapp of Peconic Escargot to talk about his one-of-a-kind snail farm in Cutchogue, but that’s just half of the story. Taylor is also the Executive Chef and brain child behind Paw Paw Pop-up Restaurant – which opens Saturdays at Bruce & Sons in Greenport with seatings at 6:30 and 8:30. The nine course menu at Paw Paw is essentially a seasonal cross section of nearly everything grown, farmed and fished on the North Fork, with a few surprises for even the most seasoned of foodies. We caught up with Taylor on a rare moment of downtime to talk shop about local ingredients, foraging, and the incredible protein content of insects.GNF: You opened Paw Paw a few years ago correct? Was that envisioned as a way to sustain your upstart snail business and still cook?

TK: It was actually the spring of 2014 - this is our third season. Honestly when the pop-up came out it was meant to be a one-off kind of thing, we were just going to do a couple of these, maybe like 5. I had left First & South in January of 2014, and I knew that there would still be a couple of months until I got the snail farm up and running. Well, little did I know that it would actually be another two and half years before I got the snail farm up and running! At the time I thought it was just going to be a couple of months so I figured we’d do a couple of pop-ups, it will be fun, we’ll make some money, just until the snail farm gets going.

I guess it kind of exceeded our expectations – we didn’t really realize people to be so into it, and as happy with it as they are, so we were able to keep it going all this time. I ended up getting another job as Corporate Chef at Koppert Crest Farm – which I loved, and I still do a little bit part time – but yeah it kind of evolved into something that we thought it would never be – it was never supposed to be a three year long running pop-up.

GNF: You’re sort of pushing the definition of pop-up but I think its ok.

TK: Yeah, it really isn’t a pop-up anymore, I don’t know what else you would call it.

GNF: So does it run all year? Or just Spring, Summer, Autumn.

TK: No it’s really pretty much all year. I mean over the three years we may have taken a month off here or there, but we plan on going right into the winter with it. It’s still kind of evolving – we’ve made little tweaks to the seating times and how many courses we do, and the price and the type of food.

At first we were doing like 15 courses at one time and it was all communal seating – we’d only do one seating with 15 courses and like 16 guests – and it was a little too intense, for the average consumer, it was like a three or three and a half hour meal. So I was like let’s pull it back a little bit, make it two or two and a half hours at the most. We do nine courses, and some of them are very small, and we have doubled the amount of people we bring in by doing two seatings.  It’s still continuing to change and we are thinking about doing some more casual stuff this winter, maybe a duck roast – everyone does pig roasts and BBQ and stuff like that, but the duck out here is probably one of the most abundant protein sources on the North Fork.

GNF: It’s definitely a Long Island staple.

TK: Certainly yeah, ducks, Long Island. There’s a couple farms out here that do pork and beef and stuff like that, but no-one is raising as much protein as Crescent Duck Farm and its fantastic stuff so we thought maybe we’ll do kind of a fun casual walk-in-only duck roast this winter.  So that’s kind of in the works too.

GNF: I Know a bit about your background at Noma and they sort of have this minimalist Nordic foraged thing going on – has that worked its way into your cooking style? What is the style of PAW PAW?

TK: Noma was certainly inspirational, I took a lot of that mindset of searching for ingredients – the way they do it at Noma, and brought it over to the North Fork. So instead of ordering things in from halfway across the country, we are looking for them here. We’re asking ourselves, can I make something tasty out of this berry or this sumac or this sassafras root? Instead of ordering vanilla beans from Asia – So I think that mentality has served us well because we’ve discovered some fun interesting flavor combinations that we wouldn’t have found otherwise.

GNF: Your cooking universe is very local-centric, is that something you brought here, or that you developed living on the North Fork, or both?

Well it’s all kind of a culmination of where you’ve been I suppose- my first real job in the kitchen was at Gracie’s in Providence – and they’re just also super seasonal, super local. They did a lot of farm visits, they have a beautiful rooftop garden where they grow a lot of their ingredients - so that kind of jumpstarted it. Then getting to travel around and work at Places like Noma, and Azurmendi in Spain, and even a bit of Alinea in Chicago and stuff like that. Whatever a Michelin star rated restaurant environment can bring to a farm to table movement.

TK: Then the first place that I was at here was Luce & Hawkins in Jamesport, and that was where I was really kind of immersed in the North Fork culture, and having all of these things so close to your fingertips. There are very few places in the country where you can drive to literally like 50 different farms and fishermen all within a half hours reach. It’s just so close. It’s incredible. You can drive to a chicken farm and then you can drive two minutes down the road and pick fresh figs, and drive two more minutes and all of the sudden you are in the woods picking sassafras up out of the ground and its crazy. I started building relationships with the farmers and the fishermen and all the people out here that did all those things. Most of them are still around, and of course there are many new places that have popped up since then.

GNF: I’ve seen you had black silkies on the menu, and I was just at the farm with Abra talking about you, also you work out of Bruce & Sons, Chris Fanjul hand-makes your dishes and tableware – what other local businesses kind of come to mind that are working with you specifically to put together these pop-ups?

TK: Well we are really excited that we are Probably one of the only spots out here that has entirely North Fork raised meat. We’re kind of a luxury because we’re a pop-up and were only doing two seatings a week at 32 guests so we can do that – but that’s kind of the point. I don’t know if I’d feel as comfortable opening a restaurant doing 100 covers a night and then we have to kind of like, source everything from elsewhere because we can’t do it locally. Why not just do it right and do it with less people. So anyway – to get back to your question, yeah we work with Crescent Farms, Abra at Fesity Acres, we work with Browder’s Birds, we get a lot of our meat from 8 Hands Farm and Deep Roots Farm.

And then vegetables, we kind of go all over – depending on who has got the best. You come to learn over the years (and it sounds ridiculous) but you like learn who has the best green beans, and who grows the best peppers, and the best – whatever. We get a lot of our fun stuff from The Farm Beyond in Southold. Melissa from there has just done an incredible job of growing, and they also forage. They do kind of a farm-forage type thing where they actually planted ramps and fiddleheads, stinging nettles and stuff like that. So they are farming in a responsible way things that before were only able to be foraged.

TK: We get a lot of our veg from them – and there’s obviously a big foraging aspect that comes into play. Whether it’s me personally going out or getting something that Mellissa and Ed foraged. Or sometimes I’ll just get random phone calls and text saying - Hey I got a bunch of beach rose or I’ve got a bunch of sea beans do you want sea beans? – And we’re like sure I’ll take them – I think that adds kind of a wild crazy component. Any time someone encounters an ingredient they’ve never seen or tasted before it puts them in kind of a different mindset.

GNF: It’s a mystique.

TK: Yeah for sure, exactly. If we can pull them out of their typical dining experience for a while and they’re seeing ingredients that they’ve never seen before or in new combinations - even the music – I’m really particular about the music – I want it to almost be something they’ve never heard before.

GNF: Seriously?

TK: Seriously if you’re eating a meal and you’re eating foraged sea beans and beach rose on a hand-made plate from Mattituck and then Billy Joel comes on? It kind of like takes you out of the whole experience. So were really careful about what’s playing. Once you’re in there you should be present there.

GNF: Are you self-taught at foraging, do you research local plants? How exactly does one learn how to forage?

TK: Yeah you have to be familiar with what grows out here, as well as what you  can eat and what you can’t eat because it’s just as important to identify the poisonous plants and the non-edible plants that live here as the edible ones. Just becoming familiar with all of those things is part of it. It took some time to learn going out with someone more experienced than me, looking at these things and pointing them out and showing me.  I had a couple of people help me that are even better at foraging than I am to do that. And then I did a lot of research. You walk in the woods and you see a plant you’ve never seen before, and you pick it and research it in a bunch of different books, and once you identify it and see whether or not you can eat it that plant – it becomes another ingredient that you look for. If you can eat it and you figure out its edible, than you have the task of figuring out what to do with it – what’s the best way to make it, make it palatable, and make it tasty. Sometimes you do a reverse and you see something that you know should be growing out here, and you look for it and you look for it and when you find it, it’s amazing. Sometimes you never find them. There have been some things I’ve never been able to find but I know they grow out here and when I finally stumble upon one it will be pretty cool.

GNF: That is cool. So you change the menu every week, do you have any favorites that make a come back?

TK: There are a couple of that have kind of stuck around over the years. The duck tongues have somehow latched on – with like a strange cult following. Sometimes I well pair them with a new sauce or a different presentation but they keep coming back. We do doughnuts at the end of the night a lot of different forms. Also the hush puppies in some form or another – kind of depending on what’s going in them. That was a technique that I learned at Noma, and one of the few things that I replicate almost exactly from the way that we did it there.

GNF: That was definitely one of my favorites. Do you always serve a tea course? I saw that on your website menu and we had it at the dinner I went to.

TK: Yea the tea is always around in some form or another and that is really an opportunity to highlight what’s happening at the time. Sometimes there’s an ingredient that I can’t necessarily incorporate into a dish, but it can be presented into a tea. Sometimes it’s a leaf or a root or a flower that you can’t really get the essence and the experience of unless it was in a tea form. So in the summer we do chill teas and in the winter we do something warm, and it’s just kind of exactly what you said - just a palate cleanser, kind of a taste of what’s happening on the North Fork, usually with foraged ingredients.

GNF: I also read that you put crickets on the menu, how did that go over?

TK: They went over better than I thought they would! I was really scared the first time I put them out. I actually had a backup appetizer ready to go because I was just so afraid that the people were just not going to do it, but lo and behold people loved them. I like them but I know I have a bit more adventurous of a palate. But for some reason they just clicked with people. They’re dry roasted - the ones that we use - they taste like sunflower seeds so they are nutty. You pop them in your mouth and they crunch. There’s no like, wet gooey gut stuff going on. But yes I was shocked to see how well they were received. We bring them out every now and then, but not all the time because they are kind of a scary ingredient. We were considering doing a full 5 course bug dinner, but I don’t know how it would go.

GNF: Now that sounds adventurous.

TK: Yeah you could do like a course of crickets, a course of mealworms, a course of grasshoppers, we could do the snails – they’re not really a bug but kind of in the ball park. That kind of goes along with one of the reasons we did the snail farm, is that its sustainable protein. We’re not expecting people to switch chicken and beef with snail and crickets, but if we all ate a little bit more of that stuff and a little less chicken and beef, I don’t know,  it could be like a butterfly effect kind of thing.

GNF: I was going to ask if you plan to open a restaurant but I guess probably not based on what we’ve already discussed.

TK: I think not right now, it’s going to be a while, because a restaurant will be all consuming. We have to get the snail farm to a place where it pretty much runs by itself. And while people have been hearing about it for years, it’s really only been up and running for about four months. It’s just a baby. So it’s going to be a while to get it into a place where I can kind of take a step back and do something else. For now were just having fun with the pop ups and we hope people continue to enjoy it in that sort of a format.

Black Silkies & Bobwhite Quail - Abra Morawiec of Feisty Acres Farm

Last week we took a trip to visit Abra Morawiec at Feisty Acres Farm. Feisty Acres raises certified organic pastured game birds on 7 acres tucked away on a large strip of North Fork farm country running down Manor Lane in Jamesport. Abra runs the farm with her boyfriend Chris and together they manage every aspect of the business.So tell me about the Feisty Acres in a nutshell.

FA: I am a tenant here, and I also work two days a week here [at Biophilia Organic Farm], but this is where I operate Feisty Acres farm. We’re a certified organic operation. We raise gamebirds including quail, guinea hen, partridge, turkeys – the only poultry that we raise are silky chickens, and we raise and release Northern Bobwhite Quail to help re-populate the natural population.

I’ve heard a bit about bobwhite quail, weren’t they endangered or close to it?

FA: What’s interesting about the bobwhite quail is that they are native all up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States. Here on Long Island there was actually a subspecies of bobwhite that existed here, but naturalists now think that it’s extinct. There are bobwhite that do live here now but they are in very small numbers and have been released by people such as myself. The biggest endangerment to the bobwhite quail population is lack of habitat due to overdevelopment. There have been studies that actually show the decline in the bobwhite population against an increase in tick borne illnesses, there is a direct correlation.

So how do you go about repopulating them?

FA: We use a piece of equipment called a surrogator. It feeds, heats, and waters the bobwhites with minimum contact. I basically go in there once a week, I adjust the heat (I usually turn it down), I adjust the height of the water, I make sure that their feed is being deposited, and that’s really it.

And that way they don’t think they’re you’re their mother?

FA: Exactly. This way they don’t imprint upon me. There’s about 36 in the surrogator right now. This is a group of quail that Girl Scout troop 1971 from Mattituck actually hatched. I lent them my farm incubator and they got bobwhite quail eggs, and I basically gave them a quick tutorial on how to use the incubator. There are only a couple of places in the country really where you can get eggs. These ones are from a hatchery in Maine.

We hitched a ride with Abra in her truck as she made the rounds on Feisty Acres Farm, feeding the birds and checking in on the surrogator filled with chirping baby bobwhite quails. First stop is the southern end of the farm where the turkeys are being kept.

FA: So here is the deal. Phil Barbato has fourteen acres. I lease seven from him. He grows vegetables and then I run my birds over his fallow fields. And then I also have them on his fallow pastures and stuff like that. During the fall I have the majority of my quail and guinea hens and partridge in the orchard. The turkeys have been out over here for most of the year. These are a very special kind of turkey, they’re called Bourbon Reds.

Bourbon reds? Are they like the turkeys that are on a whiskey bottle?

FA: No that’s wild turkey, but nice try

Should they be on a whiskey bottle?

FA: They should be, they’re pretty badass. These guys are a heritage breed that originated in the 1800s in Bourbon County Kentucky which is where they got their name. They have a storied history in the United States. They were recognized by an official breed by the American Poultry Association in 1909. These were THE BIRDS that you bred or that you raised when you were a farmer raising turkeys for meat. These guys kind of fell out of favor when the broad breasted whites and the broad breasted bronzes were developed in the 1940s and ‘50s. Those were the commercial hybrid turkeys. Those were the ones who have a lot of breast meat, but because they have so much breast meat they have a really hard time like walking around and stuff. They can’t even mate naturally, so every single one, and there’s millions of them in the United States – had to be artificially inseminated in order breed.

Ew.

FA: Yeah! Not cool right? Gross. So a couple more things about these guys. There’s only about 4-7,000 breeding pairs left in the United States, that’s it. I’ve had these particular birds since the end of April. They take 7-8 months to reach market weight. They’ll be anywhere from 8-25 lbs, the hens make up the lower end of the scale the toms make up the higher end of the scale. Your commercial hybrid turkey only takes 4 months to grow.

What do you feed them?

FA: So we raise everybody on pasture until it is depleted, we really concentrate on flavoring our birds. We like to make sure that their pasture is of optimal quality. We give them vegetable scraps every couple of days, from Biophelia Organic Farm and from Golden Earthworm Organic farm in south Jamesport. I’m going to give them some tomatoes right now. They also love watermelon. Watermelon, tomatoes, sweet corn. They love sweet corn oh my god.

They got a little bit of a sweet tooth huh.

FA: They do! They have great foraging ability, they’re very friendly, and I don’t know, they’re just great birds. They are easy to handle and beautiful, and they have very high disease resistance.

On the other side of the farm we find the orchard, which is dotted with game bird houses that shelter Abra’s guinea hens, partridges and quail. The portable shelters are rotated across the field to help fertilize the now harvested trees.

FA: So I move the birds either once a day or every two days. This is the orchard, this is Phil’s orchard of Biophilia Organic Farm. So when he finished harvesting everything in September, I moved all of my birds in here in order to fertilize his orchard. What we do is we run all of our houses down the rows, on the pasture and as close to the trees as possible to deposit fertilizer onto the ground and into the ground so that the orchard plants can actually benefit from it.

So you’re sort of working together symbiotically?

FA: Exactly.

What birds do you have in the orchard right now?

FA: These are young guinea hens, these guys are about 6 weeks old, they will be ready by Thanksgiving. And then we have the big guinea hens that will be ready by Monday. These are French Guinea hens, they’re usually around 3 pounds when they reach market weight, and they’re all dark meat. They are wonderful and delicious.

FA: We also have the Chukar Partridges. These guys take 4 months to grow, they’ll be ready by October. The checkers and the guineas are very, very skittish. Compared to them the quails are pretty chill.

Are these the same quails as those babies back at the barn?

FA: Yes. Those quail that you saw in the brooder, this is what they look like when they’re all grown up. These guys are goanna be processed on Monday. They don’t know. These guys are just chilling in the sun. Doing quail things. They’re very friendly.

What type of quail are they?

FA: These are Japanese quail, also known as Old World quail or Nile quail, this particular breed is called Jumbo Brown. At market weight these guys will be anywhere from 6 to 8 ounces each, and that’s really big for a quail. So they get to do quail things, they get to dust bathe.

I see that, what’s the deal with dustbathing?

FA: There’s a couple reasons as to why these guys dustbathe, number one is to soak up excess oil on their skin, number two is to protect against parasites like mites and stuff, and number three is because it’s like a social thing, they dustbathe together.

So do you sell mainly locally, what is your distribution like?

FA: We are in the Union Square farmers market so that’s been a really big outlet for us. Most people think were selling mainly restaurants? That’s not the case. We mostly sell to individuals and families and the demographics range from young to old, from American to Central and South American, European, people from Asia, people from Africa. I had a man from Nigeria the other day who specifically asked for fertilized quail eggs, because that’s what they eat in West Africa - they like them to be fertilized because they think they have an added nutritional value.

Raising game birds is really cool because you get to meet all sorts of people. Only here in America do we eat so much chicken. In other parts of the world they don’t eat as much chicken as we do. They eat guinea hen, they eat partridge, they eat quail.

Why do we eat so much chicken?

FA: Basically because of how our food system has been set up with farm subsidies. And also we developed hybrids of chicken that grow in 4-6 weeks instead months like wild chicken.

Speaking of chicken, everyone is talking about the black silkies right now.

FA: Here is the story behind the silkies, the silkies are a Chinese breed. They were originally bred to be companions, believe it or not.

Like pets?

FA: Yes. When they were being bred to be companions they wanted them to have soft feathers like fur. So as they bred these chickens to have softer and softer feathers a couple of things occurred. Number one, whatever gene affects the texture of their feathers also affected the color or the melanin of their skin. So after a couple dozen generations of breeding their skin turned black, totally black. Then a couple of more generations and they had 5 toes, chickens normally have 4 toes. But they are very, very cute. Because of the texture of their feathers they cannot fly, they are limited to the ground.

The feathers almost look like down.

FA: Yeah, want to touch one?

Absolutely.

FA: So these guys are actually my boyfriend’s idea to raise. Every year we like to add something new to our production. We started with quail in 2015 and that went over really great, and then last year I got a request for guinea hen and partridge, so we added those to the mix. Then we were getting a lot of request for turkeys, so we added those this year. The silkies were just a whim on Chris’ part. He originally did it because he wanted a silky pal. He wanted a pet right? So I said - well do you think our CSA members would like it and our customers would like it? And he said I bet they would because they have black skin and you know, the people who already buy stuff from us buy unusual products. So our first batch was a test batch of 50. They got processed in July, and we sold out in a week.

Didn’t Bon Appetite mag like repost you on Instagram?

FA: Saveur magazine. A lot of chefs picked them up, Taylor Knapp from Paw Paw picked them up. A couple weeks later there were black silkies in the basket on the Food Network show Chopped. I was like - Chris! You’re ahead of the trend baby, you did it! So we’re going to be raising a lot more of these guys in the future. Also the hens are really broody so they’ll sit on the eggs of other birds and raise them.

So where do all the birds stay in the winter?

FA: Usually we keep quail for eggs and guinea hens for eggs. They stay outside. The only time that we ever have to bring them inside is if we get four feet of snow and its negative 5 degrees for 2 weeks. If they need a heat lamp we give them a heat lamp but they’re far better equipped in dealing with cold weather than we will ever be.

They have feathers, we don’t. They put on extra fat in the fall in order to deal with the cold in the winter. They are animals and they are well adapted to living outside. I think that we forget that a lot because were so disconnected from our food source and how food is grown. Cows are outside year round. Sheep and goats are outside year round. The only time farmers usually ever bring in their livestock is if there is absolutely inclement weather that’s not good for the animals, and hard for the farmer to bring out food and water, but that’s it. Other than that they are pretty much outside year round.

And you guys are out here pretty much every day.

FA: Every day. 7 days a week 365 days a year. Chris and I haven’t taken a vacation since 2012.

Ouch

FA: Yeah, it’s ok, we like our life, and we don’t feel like we need an escape from it. When you feel like you don’t need an escape from your life, you don’t think about taking a vacation. When you just do chores in the morning and the evening and then you go home and just relax, spend time with each other, that’s vacation enough sometimes.

True

FA: If you choose to farm for a living, well it’s a hard life. You work every single day, you work seven days a week, especially if you own your own business. Sometimes it’s hard for family and friends to understand that because they want you to go out on a Friday or Saturday night, but the birds don’t care about that; if you are hungover or if it is Christmas, they still want to get fed and they still need water.

There is a lot of attention on farming now, the media makes it out to be this glamorous sort of career, and in a lot of ways it is - I mean you get to work outside, you’re physically fit most of the time, you eat what you grow. But it’s grueling, and the highs are very high and the lows are really, really low. I mean there could be a predator attack, or if there hasn’t been rain for weeks your crops can fail. You rely a lot upon Mother Nature, and unfortunately it’s completely out of your control.

Especially out here.

FA: Yes, but if your able to deal with all of those circumstances, and if you’re a good planner and you’re a glutton for punishment. If you are creative and self-motivated, you can really excel at being a farmer. But it’s really hard work, no matter what you do. I’m really fortunate where my boyfriend and I met farming. If you’re a single farmer and you date people who don’t farm they don’t understand that you can’t take a vacation. They don’t understand that you have to be at the farm every single day.

Just to kind of give you an idea, we have over 500 quail in the brooder. Between these guinea hens and those guinea hens we have 75, we have 103 partridge, and we have 50 silkies. Then we have 120 laying quail that lay eggs, and it’s just Chris and I and we do it all. We raise them, we care for them, we slaughter them, we package them, we sell them. We build the houses, we do the marketing, we do social media, we do the website - we do everything. This is our second full season. From last year to this year we had to double production, and next year were going to double production again.

But you’re enjoying what you do, and you’re doing well.

FA: We’re filling a niche in the market, and also land is so expensive here on long island, so in order to make an agricultural business work, you have to think about how to make the most amount of money per acre. And when you’re doing livestock you have to think small. There’s a reason why as to why there aren’t any beef farms out here. There aren’t any big dairy farms out here, because you need hundreds of acres, thousands of acres to make it work. Unfortunately we just don’t have that out here. So you have to think outside the box. That’s why someone like Taylor who is doing snails, in that little room, he’s got 15,000 snails in there. That’s how you have to think when you start a business when you’re on Long Island. Also you have to identify a really clear market. There’s already a bunch of vegetable farms out here, so if you open up a vegetable farm you have to set yourself apart. I always tell people too, make sure you apprentice on a farm, make sure you can handle the work. A lot of people start farms and don’t realize how hard it is. It seems simple from the outside, it’s not though.

Languaging The Body, Vol. 1 - Jonathan Weiskopf's Upcoming Exhibit at VSOP Projects

Jonathan Weiskopf is an evolving man. His new art gallery in Greenport, VSOP Projects, is his self-described crystallization of a vision he first conceived almost 4 years ago. After pursuing undergrad and graduate degrees at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston he was ready to bring that vision to life, and chose Greenport as the perfect place to make it happen. But Jonathan is not a person who likes to sit still. VSOP is his second art gallery, and he is already tweaking the formula to distill his core conceptual values. He speaks softly, chooses his words carefully, and arranges his thoughts much in the aesthetic of  his own gallery - with each idea given a space to exist, and collectively, the freedom to coalesce. Jonathan's vision is a liquid vision that continues to crystallize, but may also redissolve and harden again in innumerable variations.We came to Jonathan this week to talk about his upcoming exhibition “Languaging The Body” with will be previewed next Friday at the Greenport gallery walk with an opening reception on Sunday.

GNF: Tell me a bit about the artists featured in “Languaging The Body.”

JW: One of the main artists involved in [this exhibition] is Sylvia Weintraub. She is originally from Iowa, she has a Masters Degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and she is now pursuing one of the few Phd programs in Fine Arts that are available in the United States, I think at Texas Tech in Lubbock Texas.

GNF: Did you guys run into each other at all when you were both at school in Boston?

JW: Yeah, many of the artists that I work with are former classmates of mine, and artists whose work I have a deep understanding of, and a history with. I’ve watched this work develop itself over a number of years.

[Sylvia] works in a deeply conceptual manner – which I think really serves to illustrate all of the core principles involved in my curatorial decisions with this exhibition. It’s concerned with interpersonal relationships of both artificial and natural intimacy.  She creates these objects that push us toward an understanding of our perceptions of each other - not necessarily and understanding of each other but an understanding of our perceptions of each other. A self-awareness related to, not how we are perceived, but how we are perceiving others. Her work certainly is layered and often complicates these questions, often it doesn’t answer many, or any of these questions for us. Maybe the greatest success of her work is that it asks these more complicates questions, and these questions are answered with more questions.

In fact the work that she is presenting here is a small series of laser cut wooden boxes. One that is structured like a large Kleenex box, and you remove these fabric handkerchiefs from it that are embroidered with a series of repeating questions. So the structure of the thing invites you to remove one of these objects. You recognize the Kleenex box with the tissue paper hanging out of it as something to be interacted with. Thus the object itself suggests this kind of playful hands-on experience with fine art objects which is unusual.

GNF: Right, usually you aren’t supposed to touch the artwork.

JW: Her work addresses all of the concerns that I’m focusing on for this exhibition. Many of the other artists [in this exhibition]– their work is narrower in its focus under these two umbrellas – language and the body - and the way in which we use these two things to inform each other – about voice and perspective, and how we perceive others.

GNF: So how many artists are participating in this exhibition?

JW: About 12, fewer artists than my previous exhibition, and my first exhibition had 31 artists. So slowly I’m kind of narrowing the number of artists that are participating and giving each object a little bit more room to operate it on its own. Breathing room works more often than not to allow a viewer to interact with each piece on its own.

So yeah it’s a painting heavy show, we have Allison Evans who is a Brooklyn based figurative painter. She is a real minimalist in her economy of gesture and material – she’s a minimalist in that way. The canvases are left almost bare; yet these often erotic, kind of desperate figures are present.

GNF: Desperate and erotic – now you’ve piqued my interest. Anything else that’s sort of unique?

JW: We have Dawn Philips who is a Brooklyn based holistic body worker and artist. She’s preparing a performative interaction, that she will facilitate on a one on one basis with visitors to the exhibition both at the opening and at scheduled times.

GNF: How exactly is she going to interact with people?

JW: Her practice as an artist and her practice as a body worker are inseparable. The work that she’s preparing for us allows her to bring forward some of the real important moments in her professional practice in the context of an art setting, where our visitors are expecting – there’s an expectation of some sort of experience- so this interaction that she’s going to be facilitating will bring together many of the core concerns and core values in the work that she does that brings together her practice as a Massage Therapist and a Touch and Talk Therapist and as a fine art practitioner as well.

GNF: So when you say body worker it’s literally like a physical body-worker.

JW: She is a licensed Massage Therapist, and she has a practice in Brooklyn where she brings together talk touch and talk therapy, it’s a pretty unique experience, and she’s a just kind of outstanding person.

GNF: You seem to always have a mix of mediums going on, whether its stuff on the wall, physical things, furniture, or experiences – is that intentional?  Are you always doing that in an exhibition within the scope of your specific topic?

JW: My model here is interdisciplinary. The most moving experiences that I’ve had with art and of art have not come from individual objects. The most moving experiences have occurred for me when in those kinds of settings where sound, scent, and visual experience kind of all coalesce – where I am made aware that I am one of the parts of the success of a piece of artwork – right? Where “I” or “me” with a body in relation to an object – am one of the players in the success of the piece. Those are the kinds of experiences that I am working to create in the space because those have been the most compelling for me.

GNF: So that’s what your trying to get people to walk away with…

JW: Yeah, and I think those are the most generous kind of moments for our viewer - when they are not simply there to feast their eyes on a thing that someone made – but they are themselves put into a dynamic relationship with those things.

GNF: We talked about your time at the University of Fine Arts in Boston last time we spoke, but I didn’t ask you what you actually majored in.  

JW: My undergraduate degree is in photography, and my graduate degree is in studio art. I concentrated in painting and bookmaking, and curatorial practices. So I did mostly drawing, bookmaking, I designed a few pieces of furniture, and some performance art pieces, short films.

GNF: So you make art yourself as well?

JW: Yeah, it’s been awhile since I gave time and energy to my practice as a studio artist. I feel myself flexing a lot of my artistic and creative muscles through my curatorial practice here, but as someone that makes and designs objects I feel the itch now. After starting this gallery and watching it take a bit more of a crystalized form, I’m beginning to feel an itch to get back to my studio practice, but it’s been a minute since I’ve made a painting.

GNF: Greenport seems to have that itch inducing effect on people.

JW: You mean on artists in particular?

GNF: I don’t want to generalize too much, but it does seem to be a place where many people get inspired.

JW: Certainly, and perhaps it allows us some time to explore some of our inner worlds right? That is what artists do - they use the material from their inner world - and feel a need to express it through a creative practice.

 “Languaging The Body” will preview at VSOP Projects on Friday October 6th during the Greenport First Friday Gallery Walk.

The opening reception is Sunday October 8th from 2-5pm

Please also join VSOP on October 14th from 3-6pm In support of the Parent Child Home Program Hosted Anita Stewart, Melanie Holland, and Jonathan Weiskopf, as well as the board of CAST VSOP will be donating a portion of each sale to the cost of the Parent Child Home Program

The Science of Smell - Fernanda Menegassi-Lojac of North Fork Natural

This week we had a chat with Fernanda Menegassi-Lojac of North Fork Natural. A former Registered Nurse, she now specializes in aromatherapy with an online store that sells aromatic soaps, deodorants, therapeutic oils and skin care products. While some might be skeptical of the healing properties in that steaming cup of chamomile tea you just brewed, Fernanda has the scientific chops to back it up as a Certified Advanced Clinical Aromatherapist and Instructor. All of her products are based on distilled essential oils from organically grown plant material - some of which is sourced locally right here on the North Fork.GNF: I saw on your website that you are a nurse and an advanced clinical aromatherapist.

NFN: Yes my background is in nursing. After I moved to the North Fork I thought about going into homecare or something similar.  I had an interest in making natural wellness products with essential oils, and then I started making my own deodorant and different remedies for different things. When I got my aromatherapist certification people started asking me to make products for them, soaps and oils, and that kind of thing. So it grew from there, and my family and friends encouraged me to start my own business which I eventually did.

GNF: What brought you to the North Fork?

NFN: I’m originally from Brazil. I came to the U.S. to go to school, and met my husband there when I was going to school in New Jersey. He was from Long Island so I ended up moving here and we lived in Long Beach for many years before coming to the North Fork in late 2012.

GNF: What is aromatherapy exactly?

NFN: Basically aromatherapy is using essential oils to create a sense of balance – that’s the textbook version!

Essential oils are pure extracts from plants, aromatic plant material that is extracted via a distillation process. You can use the essential oils for relaxation or physical issues - some essential oils can be very calming and relaxing to the central nervous system. Oils from lavender or chamomile have a sedating action. Lavender is anti-anxiety and an antidepressant. This has been scientifically researched.

GNF: So it’s not just some holistic mumbo jumbo.

NFN: No, that’s what I thought initially as well. In the U.S. we don’t have a lot of research on it, so most of it comes from Europe, China, and eastern countries – but they study the activity of essential oils.

GNF: Is it because the aromatic molecules are actually getting inside your body?

NFN: Right – so for example if you are breathing them in, the molecules in the essential oils have a direct relationship with the brain. You actually have a part of your brain matter in the bridge of your nose called the olfactory epithelium . It’s near the center of your body’s hormonal messenger system. When you breathe something like lavender in, it is absorbed into the pituitary gland which is actually sending a signal to your brain – and your brain is telling your body to relax, calm down, etc. Other oils can have an effect where you get sleepy, or more pumped up and energized. That’s essentially the science behind it.

When you apply it to your body like through a soap, it is sort of the same process but your body is absorbing it through the skin, so there is a slower rate of absorption. That works really well for massage work. I make a joint rub for arthritis, it’s one of my best selling products. It has other oils in it like Arnica and St. Johns wort, but also peppermint which is an analgesic – like a pain reliever.

GNF: What other products are customer favorites?

NFN: I have a headache oil that has peppermint, lavender, and frankincense. You just roll it around your temples and massage it to relieve pain. I also make skin care products because some fragrances and health care products have artificial ingredients that can be detrimental to your health. I like to scent all of my soaps and my skin care products with essential oils so you have the nice aromatic experience, but without all the chemicals.

GNF: What kind of chemicals can be bad for you in conventional hygiene or skin care products?

NFN: I would say in deodorant obviously, the aluminum, so when I make deodorant I use aluminum free baking soda. Also normally artificial fragrances contain Parabens which are a preservative and also phthalates which are a fixative – and they have both been linked to cause hormonal disruption, and cancer activity. So the problem is not like you using it once, but that we layer so many things on our body every day; We are washing our hands, and putting on deodorant – and especially for us women, we use lotion and makeup and hair products - and everything that we use, most of it, has artificial fragrance right?

You walk into a regular store like CVS or Walgreens and most of the stuff in there has artificial fragrances. So part of it is just trying to limit your exposure to artificial chemicals as well.

When I make my deodorants I use nice ingredients, just coconut oil, arrowroot powder, shea butter, etc. No heavy metals and no artificial fragrances. It’s not for everybody, it depends on the lifestyle as well. Some people tend to be more health conscious, they’re like “I’m going to eat everything organic and I’m not going to use anything artificial.” I’m not a puritan like that, sometimes you just need the convenience, but I try to minimize my exposure to these things.

GNF: And in addition to all natural and/or organic ingredients you source local ingredients as well?

NFN: It’s hard to source everything. Sometimes get lavender from the lavender farm, I have friends who grow or forage herbs for me like my friend April who provides the St. John’s wort for the oil that I make for my joint rub. Another friend of mine grows Calendula so I made an infusion out of it and I use it in a lot of my products – so I do incorporate local ingredients or local herbs whenever I can. Some of my ingredients come from different parts of the world like olive oil, the butters, and things like that.

GNF: Do you have a retail store or is NFN just an online business?

NFN: I had a shop in Cutchogue for two years, and then I closed down this past June and I’ve been doing mostly online orders – having two years there helped me to establish my name and get a good customer base, and now I don’t have the overhead and I work from home. It’s flexible, it’s different, I miss being there and talking to people, but now I can pursue other interests. Cutchogue doesn’t have great foot traffic, people tend to just drive by, so it was more of a destination store. For what I do I think online is going to be just fine. I’m planning on doing a couple pop up shops at local businesses during the holidays, some have already asked me to come and set up a table

GNF: Are your customers mostly local?

NFN: Most people are from Long Island, but it’s been growing due to word of mouth, and people giving gifts to other people. I have customers on the East Coast, a couple of customers from Lake Michigan, I just shipped something to Germany last week; you never know how people are going to hear about you.

GNF: Any cross promotions with other local businesses?

NFN: I make a lot of gift baskets for charities. I work with Jen at Revel North Fork, she sells some of my products over there, and Patty from the Cutchogue Farm calls me when she needs something, she sells it to her clients. I had my products at her farm stand all summer - I make a really good and effective insect and tick repellant, it’s one of my best selling items in the warmer weather. Actually I’m making soap now for a local winery, Shinn Vineyards. It’s for their winery and bed and breakfast. So I’m finding ways to collaborate with local businesses but you have to establish yourself first.

GNF: What about Greenport?

NFN: I did a few pop-ups there at Calypso St. Barth, I find it challenging to go to these places sometimes, because if people are shopping for clothes they don’t want necessarily want to talk to me at my stand. Aromatherapy is something most people don’t understand so you have to explain it to them. I also teach, I’m a certified aromatherapy instructor. I teach at the New York Institute of Aromatherapy and when I had the shop I taught a lot of workshops. I really enjoy it - one of my favorite things to do is to teach aromatherapy, so I’m going to have to find a space now. Maybe wineries in the winter because it brings people in.

Check out Fernanda's full line of products on her website here.Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @northforknatural

More than Meets the Bivalve - Friday Night Bites & Other Happenings at Little Creek Oysters

In 2014 Rosalie Rung & Ian Wile of Little Creek Oyster Farm restored an old bait & tackle shack on Bootleg Alley in the heart of the Greenport to create the first “U-shuck” joint on Long Island (and possibly the East Coast). Three years later the North Fork oyster renaissance is exploding, and Little Creek Oysters has become something of an institution on the East End. While educating greenhorn shuckers and shelling out a dizzying array of local bivalves is still the core of their business model; they haven’t left landlubbers adrift, and you can find something that suits nearly any taste during Friday Night Bites - Oysters and Pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”) at Little Creek. From the LCO website: “Starting at 7pm on Friday we'll spread the counter with a dizzying spread of skewered small bites, pour crisp cold wines and beers and wash away the week together! Of course our shuckers will be opening the finest our bays have to offer!”

With our appetite whetted and curiosity piqued we headed over to Little Creek Oysters on Friday night to try pintxos for ourselves, and get the scoop from Rosalie.

GNF: Tell me about Friday Night Bites.

RR: We started Friday Night Bites early this summer as way to sort of change gears going into the weekend and give people a different kind of offering.

GNF: What can we expect on the menu?

RR: We rotate the menu and mostly focus on our in-house food service and our tinned fish offerings. We have different skewers that are made of mixed cheeses, beef, meats and fruits. It changes week to week but there are some things that are kind of always in the mix – our go-tos.

GNF: Was this your brainchild or Ian’s?

RR: The decision to do pintxos was kind of a collective thought. Ian and I always see people coming into town for the weekend wanting a quick snack, and we’re both into the snacking culture of the pintxos tradition in Spain. I thought it was a good fit for our business. It also gives us a chance to show off some of our other retail offerings that we have here, our conservas de peixe (Portuguese canned fish) and kind of give it a taste test. It’s a nice way to market them and also give additional offerings to people

GNF: Where do you source your charcuterie, anything made in house?

RR: We don’t make any of it, that’s curated by Alex our in-house Sandwich Chef.

GNF: Are you going to continue Friday Night Bites into the off season?

RR: We’ll continue it as long as there’s an interest and as long as it makes sense for us. Just like everything else we do – we’re an evolving business and we have room for change, so I will keep tabs on how it’s doing but we have no plans at the moment to change it.

GNF: Any other cool events going on during the week?

RR: Right now we are doing OG Beer Release Thursdays with Greenport Harbor Brewery. Every Thursday they release of a new “Weird beer” - something that their brewers cook up to sort of test the market. We are one of a few places in Greenport that gets a first-off-the line release of that. We’ll continue doing it as long as Greenport Harbor continues to do it.

GNF: Are these beers you can actually buy?

RR: They are limited runs. Sometimes they make larger batches and sometimes they make smaller batches. I don’t believe they are bottling or canning any of them, to my knowledge they are only available at the Greenport tasting room. We’re going to bring back our BYOV Vinyl Nights on Thursdays as well.

GNF: What happens at Vinyl Night?

RR: Vinyl Night for us is a way to jazz up the week and get a different crowd in here for Thursdays. My husband is a bit of a vinyl enthusiast. We started them to do something interesting in the winter, so we bring in a turntable and we encourage people to bring in their own vinyl. We also do a cooperation with The Times Vintage store, [Elizabeth Sweigart] will bring out a bunch of vinyl from her vintage collection - both for use during Vinyl Night and for sale. If people want to take a record home they can purchase it, and we have a good in house collection as well. In the summer it was hard for us to keep that up in a rewarding way, but we look forward to bringing it back

GNF: Wednesday Night Shucker’s Club – that’s still going on?

RR: Yes, we’ve been doing that probably since we opened. We have happy hour specials, and in the off season we do $20 all you can shuck, which is not available during the regular season.  We’ll probably be bringing that back in the next couple of weeks.

GNF: And you have an oyster truck now as well…

RR: Yep, we have a truck that is available for catering and events. We do a lot of private parties and weddings and that kind of thing.

GNF: Anything special for Maritime festival?

RR: We’re open!

Check out Little Creek Oysters website and stay current on their events here. Follow them on Facebook here, and on Instagram @northforkoysters

Greenport - Bohemian Capital of the NoFo Art Scene

Greenport has become a beacon to artists over the past ten years. Whether it’s the seaside ambience, the local food scene, or just something in the air – there is a bohemian draw here that’s undeniable. Perhaps it’s the proclivity of North Forkers to stay low-key even in the face of booming tourism and exploding popularity – rivaling that of their Hamptons neighbors to the south – that has made them the anti-hip heroes of a new generation of young artists and entrepreneurs. Now boasting nearly a dozen art galleries, Greenport has easily the highest concentration of exhibitions on the North Fork; and you can see them all in one night during the Greenport Gallery Walk, held on the first Friday of every month. For this issue of NF Insider we picked the brains of two gallery owners for their thoughts on the burgeoning Greenport art scene: Caroline Waloski of Siren’s Song Gallery which opened in 2006, and Jonathan Weiskopf who just opened VSOP Projects a few months ago.

Caroline is a veteran of the Greenport art scene who has been part of the Gallery Walk since its inception in 2008. She is also a member of the Greenport Business Improvement District and an avid promoter of local artists.

GNF: Why do you think there are so many art galleries in Greenport?

CW: Because there are a lot of artists in Greenport. We actually had even more before 2008. At one point we had 11 galleries, and then with the [recession] many of them closed. Then there were only about 3 galleries and over time we rebuilt everything, but the light here is great, a lot of people relocate here who are in the arts.

GNF: Would you say it’s become something of a magnet for local artists?

CW: It’s a magnet, yeah. First of all Greenport is the only village on the north fork that has so much water access, so that’s an attraction in itself. And then we have wonderful restaurants, as well as [Kontokosta] winery and the Greenport Harbor Brewery. All of those things come together to make it a desirable destination.

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GNF: How would you describe the current art scene?

CW: All of the galleries are contemporary art, with different leanings. Some are more realistic, some are abstract. Gallery M for instance is a very high end craft gallery. Hector deCordova used to have a full gallery, now he’s just showing his own work. Nova Constellasio shows her own work, she’s an oil painter. At the South Street Gallery Amy Worth does her own work but she mostly shows other artists. At Greenport Harbor Brewery they have their own art gallery upstairs. Then at Olive Studios [Carla Oberlander] does murals and painted furniture and decorative items. VSOP is a new gallery, [Jonathan] curates very conceptual art, he has furniture but it’s very abstract concept furniture. There’s also a new gallery [North Fork Art Collective] opening on Front Street. I wish them success because the more galleries there are the better it is for the group. It becomes a destination because people come here, and if they don’t like one gallery there is always something else to see.

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GNF: And what about your own gallery?

CW: I show my own work but I show other works as well. Mainly New York artists, some international artists. The gallery is a mixed style but I’m a print maker, so I do a lot of etching, wood block, and linoleum cuts. I tend to have a lot of artists in that medium, but I also have painters and sculptors and the like.

GNF: So then prints are your medium of choice?

CW: I’m partial to the multiples - hand-made prints. It’s a down and dirty business. I used to work in advertising and I’d be at my studio at my night doing etching, rubbing the paints, and I’d have all the ink underneath my fingernails so I’d have to dip my hands in Clorox so that I could make a presentation. Sometimes I’d be making a presentation to my clients and I’d have my hands behind my back the whole time because I looked like some kind of garage mechanic.

GNF: That’s passion right there. You also seem to be particularly focused on the ocean motif.

CW: Well we’re in Greenport, it’s maritime, and my work prior to coming here was focused on women’s issues and feminist type issues. People would come in, and since I had named the gallery Siren’s Song, they were always asking me about mermaids. I thought it was appropriate. Life comes from the water. Babies are born in water. Water created us from little amoebas in the beginning of the world; so I became interested in this amniotic-sea concept. And you know, mermaids, water, life, everything comes from the water. We’re 75% water.

Sirens Song Gallery is located at 516 Main St, Greenport, check Caroline's website here and follow her on Facebook here.

On the west end of Front Street we caught up with Jonathan Weiskopf at VSOP Projects - whose gallery immediately stands out for the colorful permanent abstract installation "A Woman in Motion" by Naomi S Clark on the side of the building. Weiskopf is the new kid on the block but he feels he has been warmly welcomed by the Greenport community. 

GNF: What brings you to the North Fork?

JW: I’ve been living here full time since last year. I own a house in Southold. My sister got married in the area four years ago at Martha Clara Vineyards and we all really enjoyed our time out in Mattituck. Then we came back out year after year, and slowly started going further east. First we discovered Southold, then we discovered Greenport. We fell in love with the area and then moved here when I finished graduate school last May.

GNF: And then you decided to open an art gallery here?

JW: This project has been in the works for about three years. I had an art gallery years ago. I closed it and went back to school at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and got two degrees. Ever since I started graduate school I knew that this project was going to be what I landed on, but I didn’t really have a complete sense of what the space would look like and where it would live. The closer I got to finishing grad school the more this began to crystalize - after spending more time here, falling in love [with Greenport], and making some new friends. It felt like the puzzle pieces were fitting together in a way that looked right for me and this is just such an incredible place to live.

GNF: What do you think makes Greenport so attractive to artists?

JW: I’ve had my eye on Greenport for a while and it has all of the moving parts that I think are right for a gallery like this. There are a lot of young business owners here and a lot of brand new businesses. It has the right kind of company you would want for a [artist] scene like this, great restaurants and a great community. It’s a tremendous place to have people come visit, whether its friends, family, or clients. One of my favorite things about this place is that the food that I eat and the wine that I drink is grown right around the block from my house. It’s easy for me to go to all of the places I like to go and it’s just the sweetest home.

GNF: I was interested in your gallery because it was a bit different – kind of an abstract sculpture, mid-century modern vibe.

JW: What sets me apart is that I work with both artists and designers, which is a bit of an unusual thing for this setting. I have a network of artists that I work with from around the country: Massachusetts, Connecticut, graduate students at Yale and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. I also have some international artists that bring work in, many of whom haven’t been shown in the United States before. I have a British woman who is a furniture maker whose work is being shown here for the first time in the US. I have a Japanese potter who lives in London, a Danish painter from Copenhagen. Again, this is the first time their work is being exhibited in the United States. So it’s many of those kinds of projects that set us apart from what has been typical for Greenport.

GNF: Would you say it’s been well received thus far?

JW: I’m very happy, obviously there are lots of ways to gauge the success of an art gallery during its first season. I feel very welcomed by my neighbors, both the people that live in the area and the other business owners. I’m new here and I recognize that I’m doing something that could be perceived in any number of ways, so I’m really glad to be welcomed for what I’m doing, and for being someone that this community is open to.

VSOP Projects is located on 311 Front Street, GreenportCheck out their website hereFollow them on Facebook and Instagram

Read more about the Greenport Gallery Walk here - the next walk is October 6th 6-9PM. The Greenport Gallery Walk runs every first Friday of the month through December 1st.

Lori Guyer of White Flower Farmhouse, the Joanna Gaines of Southold

Meet Lori Guyer, the woman behind White Flower Farmhouse, a quaint little antique shop in downtown Southold. Lori is a natural born collector, with a knack for decorating and a love for vintage trinkets. Farmhouse antiques are her specialty, and she leaves no stones un-turned in the hunt for old treasures. Tools, pulleys, door knobs, spigots, nuts & bolts; you'll find a regular vintage hardware store at her shop in addition to the typical antique fare; but its her custom reclaimed furniture and decorating services that are quietly transforming houses and businesses on the North Fork into vintage magic.GNF: How long have you been antiquing?

LG: Since I was 5. It was funny, my mother decorated in Danish modern style, and then she changed to colonial when colonial came in. So she had all this stuff in a box: salt and pepper shakers, dishes, all sorts of little tchotchkes. I put them all in a wagon and I went door to door and I sold them! I was knocking on people’s doors asking “Are you interested in any of my merchandise?” You know, for like 50 cents apiece or whatever.

GNF: So this has been a lifelong hobby for you.

LG: It was always in my blood. And then I was a graphic designer. I was the Art Director at the Traveler-Watchman - do you remember that newspaper?

GNF: I think they sold the building not long ago.

LG: It was right around the corner here on Traveler Street, the blue one. That was a newspaper for like a hundred years. Tim Kelly was the editor. They sold the building, they’re renovating now. I worked for the newspaper and then when I had kids, I couldn’t work anymore. So then I got back into doing shows, and then eBay started and I was one of the first people on there.

GNF: You definitely seem like an eBay person.

LG: I was one of the first people on there, and there were only like 35 items. You would list something and then people would literally send you a check in the mail. You’d get your check, and then you’d wait for it to clear and ship the item. I did that and then I did shows and then I started this store. That’s it in a nutshell.

GNF: Have you always lived on the North Fork?

LG: I grew up in Wading River. Went to High School in Riverhead. I never liked the city, I was always a country girl. I always liked used stuff and farm house stuff. When you are decorating it adds more soul to a space if you mix new and old. It makes it more interesting.

GNF: Shabby chic is like the thing now.

LG: Yeah, and you can get it cheap! I put things from my house on Instagram sometimes and people are like, “Wow I love that!” Sometimes I feel like telling them, “I bought that at a yard sale for like $5.” You have no idea. I’m a big Craiglister. Craigslist, yard sales, so fun.

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GNF: And now you’re building custom furniture as well?

LG: Yes, we did Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, all the tables on sliders and for the restaurant. We did the modern red industrial farm table at Aldo’s. We did that new winery on Peconic Lane, Peconic Cellar Door. I love doing custom stuff. You’re reclaiming material, your reclaiming wood, half of it is from old barns. I get calls from carpenters that tell me they’re working on this old house, do you want these doors? And I’m like yeah, bring them here.

GNF: So basically you’re the Joanna Gaines of Southold.

LG: Yup, me and my carpenter John Mehrman, he’s a custom wood worker. He’s a retired math teacher, very smart, sweet old dude. Outdoorsy looking. Bob Villa type.

GNF: How long have you been working together?

LG: Our kids went to kindergarten together and now my daughter is 21. He is the only carpenter that I’ve worked with that you could literally stand on the farm table because everything is built so sturdy. Everything is built really well. I don’t have to worry about splinters, I don’t have to worry about rotten wood. He can do customs, plans, anything.

Just a few miles west of Lori's shop in downtown Southold, retired math teacher John Mehrman builds bespoke tables, benches, and cabinets out of his garage on Wells Road. John is the maker behind the White Flower Farmhouse custom furniture business. Like Lori, John is an avid collector, but his passion is wood. He plans on building a dedicated shop - the foundation is already in place, but he's meticulous in his work so the building is coming together slowly. With piles of wild-edge planks seasoning under tarps, stacks of vintage barn beams, and mountains of logs dotting his property - it looks like he's going to be busy for a long time.

GNF: Lori tells me you’re a retired math teacher who loves building things.

JM: I have a disease, or an addiction if you will. I make stuff for people to feed my habit.

GNF: Where do you get all these trees from?

JM: Actually they are from the neighborhood. See that big grey house? When they tore down the old house to make it they took a bunch of trees down. A little further down the road where it’s just an open lot – they were building a house there and the frame was up; it caught fire and it burnt down. My friend Rob is still going to build there, but the fire killed a bunch of trees, so they took those trees down and I got the trees. Then if you go around the bend, there’s a new house going up over there.

GNF: I’m seeing a pattern here… Lori tells me you two go way back.

JM: Her daughter and my daughter went to elementary school together and they were very good friends. It was one of those things where, the carpenter she was working with wasn’t doing what she needed. She asked me if I could make her a bread board. I said yeah, I can do that. Then a while later she was like, I have this broken table, do you think you can fix it? I was like, sure, I can do that. Then a bit later she tells me, I got this old door, do you think you can make it into something? I said, yeah I can do that, and it just escalated from there.

GNF: Are you self-taught in carpentry?

JM: I grew up in a craftsman environment as a kid, my dad did everything. Although he was more of a mechanical person. It wasn’t so much furniture as it was rough carpentry, trim work, that kind of thing. I grew up in that kind of environment. I always liked doing this kind of stuff. I always wanted to build my own house so we bought the lot next door in 1984 and my wife and I built the house there. Of course it’s not done yet.

GNF: This wood over looks really cool.

JM: This is wood from an old barn in Vermont that I brought down to use for custom projects. People who want old barn wood. I know an artisan up in Vermont, he said this lady wants to get rid of a barn, are you interested? I trucked it down here. Cost me as much to truck it down as it cost to buy it in the first place. Slowly but surely I’m hoping to break even.

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GNF: Any idea how old it is?

JM: Some it’s from 1700s, some of it probably mid-1800s. You can see how some of it was cut strait with a saw, and some was just hand hewn with an adze.

GNF: What are your favorite type of projects?

JM: I really like using the live edge, mixing the mediums, like steel, wood and stone. The best ones are the ones you make the least amount of money but you learn a heck of a lot, you know. And I’m fortunately in a position to be doing that.

GNF: So you’re an artist too?

JM: Not really, I just like to play around with wood. I really like what I consider to be functional art. And if you can mix different things together it just makes it fuller.

White Flower Farmhouse is located on 53995 Main Street in Southold.Follow them on Facebook - facebook.com/whiteflowerfarmhouseand Instagram - @whiteflowerfarmhouse

On the Air with Noah Doyle of the North Fork TV Festival

Earlier this week we spoke with Noah Doyle, who founded the North Fork TV Festival with his wife Lauren. After their success last year, the North Fork TV Festival is back in 2017 with a star studded cast of panelists, four premieres of independent TV pilots, and the first annual North Fork TV Festival Canopy Award, which is being received by Actor Chris Noth (Law and Order, Sex and the City). The 2017 North Fork TV Festival runs Thursday September 7th - Saturday September 9th.

GNF: What was the impetus for the North Fork TV Festival?

ND: There are hundreds of film festivals around the country, if not around the world, but if I asked you to name a festival that was solely dedicated to sharing independently financed television pilots with the public, you could probably count them on one hand. I grew up going to film festivals and watching cinema. I think they play an important part in our culture - but as media habits have changed, my personal viewing habits have changed. I’ve fallen in love with the episodic series, which is essentially media dedicated to long-form story telling. What basically started gaining popularity with shows like Sex and the City. With the emergence of streaming and binge watching, those habits have only continued to grow in popularity. I think artists have started to realize that they too want to be in the business of making, not just movies, but also TV series - without having to follow the traditional system. That’s part of the reason that you need a festival where these artists can be discovered and their work can be shared. Not just for the North Fork community, but also the media world and the buying community.

GNF: Would you say there is a focus on New York and/or local artists and writers? Or is that the mainly the North Fork Canopy Award in particular?

ND: There are really three types of programming that are going to happen at this year’s festival. The idea is that we are going to grow and add a day every year until we fully reach our mission. Much of the talent is connected to New York and Long Island in particular.

The first part of the programming is the actual independent TV pilots that are being premiered. It starts Thursday night with Greenport which was written and shot on the North Fork of Long Island. MFI (Manhattan Film Institute), Tony Spiridakis, Shannon Goldman and the whole hometown crew will be there. Then we’ll move into three other independent TV pilots - one on Friday and two on Saturday, which are absolutely phenomenal.

The second thing we’re going to do is a handful of panels geared towards discovering the TV business. One of those panels will be writers, artists, and creators, who really have a NY / Long Island connection, I mean Sarah Treem is literally filming The Affair that week and then coming to the panel that Saturday. Christina Wayne lives in the Hamptons and she was the executive behind Madmen and Breaking Bad.

The third component that is new this year is the North Fork Canopy Award. We are honored to be presenting the inaugural award to Chris Noth who has filmed in New York State, not over years, but decades. His work really starts back with Law and Order. There really was no better person that on the one hand symbolizes a TV star, but also started and developed his career in New York. And of course the Canopy is a symbol of our commitment to the wine and agricultural businesses that are located on the North Fork.

Those three parts really define what the festival is, but overall our hope and our mission is that buyers and media will see one of these four TV pilots and greenlight it, and make it into a series. Then years from now people will say “Well I saw the pilot in Greenport.”

GNF: Why Greenport?

ND: Everybody asks me that, it’s funny too because when I’m on the west coast, I literally have to take out my iPhone and show them it’s not the Hamptons. I have a home out [on the North Fork] and I love it. I grew up in Commack and my grandparents were from Rhode Island. So I spent my whole childhood, basically every school vacation going back and forth along the North Fork at a very young age. I spent a lot of time at Harbes pumpkin picking with my family. When my wife said I decided to get a place out East, it was an easy choice. The thing I love about the town of Greenport is that it reminds me a lot of what Park City looks like. You have a main street, independent restaurants and taverns, and also a beautiful theatre, the Greenport Theatre. If you walk in there, you’ll see a photo on the left side. I don’t know how it was shot, but it must be almost 80 years old. It’s a photo of this group of people all dressed up to go to the theater with their hats and everything in the style of 30’s or 40’s - it’s like a true Saturday night at the movies. That picture, if we could do the 2017 version of it, then I think we’ve nailed it.

GNF: There has been a lot of press lately touting the North Fork as this sort of Un-Hamptons. Would you say the North Fork TV Festival is the Un-Hamptons International Film Festival?

ND: This is not a film festival. The Hamptons have cinema, the North Fork has TV. I’ll leave it at that. If you want to watch independent film and movies, I encourage you to buy a pass to the HIFF. If you are very passionate about the next hot thing on TV, then come out to Greenport after Labor Day.

GNF: One of the premieres I saw on your website was interesting – Greenport, filmed on the North Fork. Have you come across anything else produced or filmed in this area for consideration, and would you say there is a scene burgeoning?

ND: The work that the team over at Manhattan Film Institute does that supports and encourages the arts is amazing, it’s absolutely phenomenal. And despite being different organizations, the fact that we’re able to open up the TV festival with a pilot that was filmed locally could not have checked more boxes for me, and for the message about what NFTV festival is trying to do locally. The fact that that even in the North Fork, people can go out and raise money for friends and family, and make a TV pilot - and they should know that we are a place that they can come to try and get it sold. TV is a billion plus industry, we have studios, we have talent, we have writers, what we don’t have in Suffolk county in the market is a place for people to buy and exchange their ideas, and that’s really at the root of what we are trying to create.

GNF: On the topic of bringing new pilots to market, how did things turn out for last year’s pilots?

ND: What’s really interesting about last year vs his year is last year the two independent TV pilots we did were actually from Canada and Northern Ireland. Both of them pre-festival had already been picked up by government money, but not by US distributors. I have had so much going on with this year’s festival, I just have not stayed as close to the contacts of those pilots as I would have liked to, but they definitely had been sold and are being developed abroad. It’s an interesting concept what they do in these countries - they have local production requirements and so that really fosters a private/public partnership making television that normally wouldn’t happen. Looking at what’s going on with Canada and Ireland could be an important model for Suffolk County, if they really want to continue to foster independently made TV.

GNF: Anything else you want to tell people about this year’s North Fork TV Festival?

ND: Buy your tickets early. Our goal is to sell out before the show. We have a special screening of “From the Ashes” from National Geographic Channel that is free to the community, which will feature a Q&A with Alan Eyres, SVP of Programming & Development at National Geographic Channel immediately following. We’ve really tried to keep prices incredibly low and reasonable, so I would say is buy your tickets early, don’t wait!

By your North Fork TV Festival tickets here. See the full schedule of programs here.

Follow @northforktv facebook.com/NorthForkTV/

Full Snail Ahead - Catching Up with Taylor Knapp of Peconic Escargot

Last week we had a chance to catch up with Taylor Knapp of Peconic Escargot. Taylor is a local chef with experience working at the world famous Noma in Denmark (2 Star Michelin), as well as a handful of other restaurants in NYC before finding his way to the North Fork. He was inspired to create Peconic Escargot during his tenure as Executive Chef at First and South in Greenport. According to his website, he became frustrated with having to use “a dusty old can of snails” after taking great pains to locally source all of his other ingredients. Hence, Peconic Escargot was born.

Q: How many snails do you have?

PE: We have probably about 12,000 snails right now, and the greenhouse is at about 2 /3 capacity of what it can handle. The snails are anywhere between their growing stages and the purging stage, which is kind of where a lot of them are right now because we are moving out a lot of our product.

Q: Purging stage, what’s that?

PE: When the snails are ready to process they go into purging for about a week. During their life they eat a lot of dirt, and they need that, because they need the calcium the in the soil to build their shells. If they don’t have enough calcium they will have weak shells and they are likely to get smashed. So right now they are eating greens and they are eating dirt; they are getting bigger and then when we are ready to process they go into these empty containers for about a week.

During this time we feed them spent beer grains - these are from Moustache Brewery in Riverhead. We take their spent malted barley and dry it out and grind it into a flour. That’s what we finish them on. So they eat this and they push out the soil and the other stuff that you don’t want to eat. Sometimes they’ll retain a little bit of this grain and that’s good to eat too because when you taste them you will get a little bit of that nice nutty malted barley flavor. If they are not purging then they are eating dirt or foraged greens from the around the North Fork.

Q: So you forage locally for the rest of their diet?

PE: Yes. I just fed them some wild carrot greens. I forage all over, sometimes on this property and also east of here there is a big expanse of woods, the Corchaug Preserve. They eat wild foraged greens like dandelion, clover and sorrel and other greens. This is our first season so were going to see – obviously we aren’t going to be able to do that all the time during the winter. We’re probably going to have to find some other sources, maybe some greenhouse stuff. We might switch it around so that all the snails are eating the barley in the winter, I don’t know. For now they are eating this foraged stuff.

Q: I read on your website you are raising a specific type of snail, care to elaborate on that?

PE: It’s a Petit Gris, a little grey snail, and those came over to California in the 1850s. They were brought over as a food source by the French. There is very little information on it. I’m not 100% sure but I think they may have simply let them loose in the wild. There is a reason we grow these, their size is really nice. They aren’t tiny like the American snails are. American snails don’t get to be quite this big. They also have a wonderful flavor, and they are just incredibly tender. Even without long periods of cooking. Also they can deal with this climate. Right now in the greenhouse its 82 degrees, it can get up to be 120 or down as far as the 40s or 50s and they won’t be happy but they’ll still survive. They have quite a large temperature range which makes it easier for us so that were not freaking out about fluctuations in the weather.

Q: If the snails eat local forage, do you believe in snail terroir?

PE: Sure. The dirt is from Long Island, they are eating Long Island topsoil and the greens are coming from around here too. So although everyone thinks escargot is a very French thing - this is an American ingredient. These are American grown snails, eating American greens and there is no reason you couldn’t serve it at American restaurant, or a Thai or Indonesian restaurant – it’s just a snail. We’re trying to convince people of that. We have a lot of French restaurants reach out, and then when we reach out to an American restaurant sometimes they’re like “We can’t serve escargot.” Some people have this perception that they can’t use snails because they think they are a French ingredient and they have an American restaurant.  Meanwhile, you wouldn’t say you can’t serve beef because it’s Japanese – it’s a cow! A cow is a cow.

Q: What do restaurants do with the snails?

PE: You can tailor them to the dish. Greg Ling has done incredible stuff at Industry Standard in Greenport with his escargot and wild shrimp wontons, and his Abura-ramen. He’s doing a lot of Asian inspired stuff. Also there’s Bruce at Bruce and Sons, who uses escargot in his panzanella salad - that’s kind of like an Italian take on it. You can get very American with it. We are trying to convince people that it’s an ingredient and not a food genre

Q: Do you find that you are selling mainly to local restaurants or is there a wider distribution?

PE: Distribution is all over, but we’re not going too far west yet. We’ve shipped some to Texas, we’ve shipped some to Indiana. That’s about as far west as we go. We are shipping FedEx, 2 day shipping all over the country. If someone in Wyoming wants snails, in 2 days we can get them out to him. We have couriers that get them into the city, and up north like in Massachusetts and Vermont. We also do hand deliveries on Thursdays to New York City and Long Island restaurants. On top of that we have a couple of retail spots. Southold fish market has our product. We’re working on building up more of those.

Q: Peconic Escargot is the first USDA certified snail farm in the America, was that a tough process?

PE:  Yeah it was very difficult, it took three years. We have been working on this for four years, and we’ve had the snails for about a year. So that’s pretty much the whole story up to this point. The hardest part was trying to get them here, in the state. Once we were able to bring them into the state that kind of changed things. After that it was just a lot of phone calls and emails and inspections with the USDA. Then we had a year and a half to ramp up and build our inventory and start selling.

Q: And now you’re introducing snail caviar, or should I say snaviar?

PE: We’re getting there. First of all the weather is hot and they aren’t in the mood right now. The spring and in the fall are their big laying seasons. We’re going to work on getting them to lay in the winter with a humidifier and some lights, but right now it’s really just the spring and fall. It’s mainly about the humidity of the soil because they bury down into the soil to lay their eggs. If the soil is too dry, they won’t lay eggs because they figure that their eggs will dry out and not mature. If it’s too wet the eggs will actually just swell up and burst open. So the soil has to be the right moisture level. The temperature of the air and the humidity has to be right, and then the snails just have to be happy and well fed. And once we have enough product to move forward with caviar we will. Snail caviar is on the way, snaviar. I’m hoping by the end of the year well have a product for that. Still a little ways off.

See more of Peconic Escargot at:

www.peconicescargot.com www.facebook.com/PeconicEscargot@peconic_escargot

Recipies:www.peconicescargot.com/recipes

Broads on Boards: Cherryl Bradley and Sue Halladay of Adventure Paddleboards

Fitness buffs turned paddleboard gurus Cherryl Bradley and Sue Halladay run a burgeoning paddleboard business at Jamesport Bay Suites; running fitness programs like floating yoga and the beginner oriented "broads with boards." We tracked them down for a little bit of Q&A.

Q: Do you live on the North Fork?

AP: I do, I live in Greenport. I consider myself a Northforker not a Southforker. If I have to label myself.

Q: But you didn’t grow up here right?

AP: I grew up in Queens NY, in Elmhurst. I lived there until I was about 20, then I ran away with the circus, and I ended up in California.

Q: Wait, what? You were actually in a circus…

AP: Yeah, I actually auditioned for Ringling Brothers and I got hired, as a dancer. And so I did that for a year and then I toured and traveled around and ended up in California for years. Then I came back here and that was when I started working for [a winery on the North Fork].

Q: What made you want to switch gears and start your own business?

AP: I knew I wanted to start my own business and I knew I wanted to do something fun, and physical, and on the water. A friend of mine had suggested paddle boarding casually. Something like “just get four boards and hang out on the beach!” At first I wasn’t keen on the idea. I thought it sounded a little too vagabond, I don’t know. I ended up buying 12 boards anyway and I met my friends at the Inn Spot and was dropping cards off. At first I just thought I was going to be mobile. I said sort of jokingly to the owner “So what do you think about dropping off some paddleboards here?” She looked at me and she said “OK.” Just like that. It turned out they used to have a sailing school so they were permitted for it. We kind of hit it off after that and I didn’t even know how it was going to work. I didn’t even know how much money I was going to make. I didn’t even know if I could make money.

Q: So you just had like a truck and some paddleboards.

AP: Yeah. I set it up right here, on the water’s edge and as time went on I ended up with [Adventure Paddleboards].

Q: Where does Jamesport factor in to the equation?

AP: I have a friend Susan Halladay, who loves to paddle. She’s the Manager at Jamesport Bay Suites. She was a fitness instructor on the North Fork for many years and so she learned to do paddle boarding as well and over the years we have been slowly growing that part of the business. Now its official, I have signs up there, we are really trying to get the word out and let people know it’s there.

Q: What’s different about the Jamesport Adventure Paddleboards experience?

AP: Its different water there. It’s much calmer so it’s a little easier to do the yoga. Also the weather there seems to be a little less windy.

Q: What are some of the activities you offer at Jamesport, and what do people seem to like best?

AP: This year we decided to add the yoga classes and the broads on boards class to that location. We do yoga class at 6:30. It’s been really popular. Pretty much everybody has tried it at some point.

Q: Paddle boarding seems to be becoming something of a NoFo pastime, are you noticing an uptick in customers?

AP: Everyone is doing it. I have grandmothers and their grandkids doing it. You know something? It’s almost like riding a bike. It takes a bit of learning but once you get the hang of it you never forget.

Q: So you can take your whole family?

AP: Totally, it’s hard when you have parents and you have little kids and their ability levels are different, but we have it figured out. Like with the kayaks. I have singles, doubles, and then gizmos, which are like these little kayaks for kids that you can tether to a larger kayak; so they can still have the freedom and paddle around but if they get tired they always keep up with the group.

Q: Sounds like you got things figured out.

AP: I’ve been doing this for six years, and I’ve taught a lot of people, and a lot of people think they know how to paddle and, they don’t.  They think that paddling is just getting on the board but it’s more than that. It’s know where the channel is; its knowing how to be safe.

Q: What do you guys do during the winter… polar paddle?

We plan for the next season. I would love to do winter paddling. It’s like a big thing on Long Island but most of those people have their own boards and their own suits. Usually in the winter we rest and we plan for the coming season.

Q: What about in between?

In the fall I want to stay open four days a week. I’d like put together some mystery adventures. I was thinking about doing a series of them. We would meet and I would decide that day depending on the wind and the weather, where we are going to go.

Adventure Paddleboards is open on the North Fork at Jamesport Bay Suites until October 30th all days weather permitting. Floating Yoga - Sunday 9:00am Kids Yoga on the Grass - Sunday 10:30am Broads on Boards (Women 40+ beginner) - Weds & Fri 7am Lessons by appointment Rentals daily

www.adventurepaddleboards.com Jamesport Bay Suites@adventurepaddleboards

Growing Places with Ben Gonzalez and Dave Daly of Southold Bay Oysters

Q: What made you want to get into the oyster business? A: After we purchased a home on the North Fork we decided we wanted to live here full time.

We got tired of the long commutes on the LIRR or the Jitney every Friday and Saturday just to stay for the weekend. So in 2015 we moved out East to start Southold Bay Oysters, with the hopes of eventually making it a commercial oyster farm. Once we settled in Southold, our time was filled with finding a boat, acquiring equipment, and researching as much as we could about this new unpredictable world of oysters.

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Q: Did you have any aquaculture background before this?

A: Dave joined the Cornell Cooperative Extension's Suffolk Project in Aquaculture Training (SPAT) a few years ago as a hobby to learn how to grow oysters. We started with a few hundred in floating bags and after two years of tending them we had our first harvest and began shucking for our family and friends.

We received our first batch of commercial baby oysters in 2016. We had no idea what to expect. Do we bring big containers to pick up all the seed? Do we count the tens of thousands of baby oysters? We ended up receiving them multiple receptacles, each one as big as a yogurt container. We thought “Wow, we need to grow these babies.”

Q: Has the community of growers been helpful to you getting started?

A: In 2015 when we left the city what did we know about oysters? At first not much. Most of the process was figured out along the way with the helpful advice of other local oyster growers. We thank everyone in the aquaculture community.

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Q: Where do you guys grow / farm?

A: Our oyster farm is in Southold Bay in water that averages 16 feet deep. We have a 10-acre aquaculture site through the Suffolk County Aquaculture Lease Program. Our oysters love the water of Southold Bay. To be honest, they have not said it. Even though we talk to the oysters, up to now they have not talked back.

Q: Maybe they need more time to come out of their shell(s). Is Southold Bay a good place to be growing them?

A: Oysters grow based on a mathematical equation. G = A x F. In plain English, Growth = Algae x Flow (water flow). Southold Bay enjoys water flow from the Atlantic Ocean, East of us. Believe me, we have FLOW! As of today, our oysters are devouring algae and filtering thousands of gallons of water in Southold Bay.

Q: Last week you mentioned “merroir” as similar to the aquaculture version of “terroir” – care to elaborate?

A: Oyster's flavor and “finishing touches” can be attributed more to their local habitat than to the species. In this sense, oysters are much like fine wine.

The Eastern or Atlantic Oyster is indigenous to North America, and grown on the east coast. It is the only oyster allowed to be farmed on the east coast. So, similar to a merlot grape, all East Coast oysters start as the same species but take on the characteristics of their environment to create unique characteristics. It is a good practice for oyster lovers to learn about the farm and the characteristics of the water where their favorite oysters are growing.

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Q: So given that line of thinking and the fact that you guys travel a lot, I’d imagine you’ve tasted some interesting shellfish along the way…

A: This past September we paid a visit to the oyster region of Galway, Ireland. The area's native oyster is the Ostrea Edulis. This oyster has a smooth, round (saucer-like), flat shell with a shallow cup and seaweed-green color. You need to be a true oyster lover to enjoy them as they have the boldest of flavors in the oyster kingdom. They have a meaty, almost crunchy texture, with an intense mineral bite up front, a potent seaweed flavor, and a long-lasting gamey finish. Eating an oyster is like kissing the sea.... eating a native Edulis is like kissing the bottom of your boat!

Q: What does SBO have planned for the future?

A: We are doing multiple Pop Up Oyster Raw Bars around the North Fork this summer, and also the North Fork Foodie Tour on September 10. We call our oysters Southold Shindigs. Eventually we would like to start selling them wholesale as well.

Learn more at www.southoldbayoysters.com

Look for Southold Bay Oysters on Fridays at the Tap Room at Corey Creek  and September 10th at the North Fork Foodie Tour

Beth Young of the East End Beacon on Slow News

Q: You founded and publish the website and print newspaper the East End Beacon.  How did you get into journalism? A: I started by delivering the Sag Harbor Express—I was working on boats about 20 years ago, answered an ad for delivering papers, and in a couple weeks they had me writing stories. I was there for about 8 years.

While I was working there I finished my bachelor’s degree and went to Columbia’s Journalism School. Then I went to DC and interned with a wire service called the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.  Then I came back home, worked for the East Hampton Press, the Southampton Press, and the Times-Review Group. After that I launched the Beacon.

Q: You’ve been a part of the East End’s media landscape, from several angles, for the past 20 years. What changes have you seen?

A: When I started, websites weren’t standalone sources of news, they were more a place for contact info. That changed rapidly and everywhere, and it’s a totally different business than it was 20 years ago. They’re still figuring out how to make it work.

Q: Fair, the shift to digital journalism changed everything. But what was it about the media landscape out here that prompted you to start a new media website and ultimately launch print? I mean, it seems much more common for papers to close and stop printing.

A: One of the biggest reasons I felt was everyone seemed to be reinventing a wheel—East Hampton might do something, really consider an issue, and then a few years later it would come up in Riverhead or Shelter Island and it was as if they were starting from scratch.

I wanted to create a platform that would help keep people in the loop about what was going on in the other towns. It’s kind of the opposite of hyper-local news.  The East End is a relatively distinct region, and I thought it needed journalism from the whole area. I’m aiming for the bigger picture, and not living life in a vacuum. This would be the Peconic County newspaper if there ever was a Peconic County.

I would really love some day to print paper clothes for fish, so that if people are really tired of reading newspapers, we can make it easy for them to wrap fish in it. The whole idea is to have fun with the form, to see what of it is still alive and breathing. I'm betting there's more here than naysayers are willing to believe.

Q: Sure—the East End Towns do have a lot in common that they don’t share with the rest of Long Island. That’s at least in part because we were colonized by CT, not NYC, and why ‘Peconic County’ makes so much sense. Besides wanting to counter the hyper-local, fragmentation aesthetic of a lot of media, was there any other need you thought the Beacon could fill?.

A: In the last 8 years of working for other media the focus became breaking news, and searching for what creates the most traffic on the internet. That imperative doesn’t give you an opportunity to decide if a story is actually important. In a place like this, where a mountain can easily be made out of a molehill, you don’t want that.

Some days around here there’s just not a lot of news happening, some days there’s a lot.  The breaking news, site traffic and profit focus wasn’t healthy for the journalism business or the reporters. I think a lot of journalists burn out, and they just become public relations people. I wanted to publish Slow News, stories that were important enough to report, and to report them well.

Q: When and how did you launch the Beacon? How often do you publish?

A: It started as a website four years, two months ago, and became a printed newspaper this April.

Usually the website has one or more new stories every weekday, and sometimes on a weekend as well. We also have digital newsletter that is sent out at 5 am every Sunday. We call it The Week in Review.

The print is once a month, on the first of the month. There’s about 45 retail locations for the print edition you can find them here.  Our current print run is 5,000 copies. It’s a wide broadsheet, 20 pages. Very old fashioned in that way. One of things I’m really tickled about is that it’s a very old form filled each month with new ideas.

Q: Is there a particular story or series of stories that you’re particularly proud of? If so, why?

A: I’m trying to make this a well-rounded newspaper, so I’m most proud when I can cover all of our main focuses well in a given month.

Q: The  New York Times has a motto—All the News that’s Fit to Print. Does the Beacon? Also, your font is distinctive. How did you pick it?

A: The East End Beacon is devoted to covering new ideas, social and environmental issues, arts and culture on the East End of Long Island.  As to font, it’s called American Typewriter. I got a kick out of publishing an internet media site with a font based on the un-digital typewriter. I like the old fashioned aesthetic.

Q: Besides your general news coverage, do you have any particular column, or set of listings that you do regularly that people should turn to the Beacon in particular for?

A: Music. I try to keep the music listings really current, in the wineries, parks and performing art spaces. I want us to be a home for musicians. Music was an early love for me, though I never was any good at it.

Q: Is there something else important to know about the Beacon?

A: Yes. We have some really good writers working for us. William Sertl, a former editor of Gourmet Magazine who lives in Cutchogue; Kara Westerman, who founded the Amagansett Writers Collective; Jinsoo Henry Oh, a young man who grew up in Mattituck who’s very enthusiastic about planning and the future; and Jo-Ann McLean, whose real job is as an archeologist. She knows a lot about everything going on under our feet.

Tim Kelly, the former editor of The Suffolk Times and Glenn Jochum, a former editor of The Traveler-Watchman, are both writing columns. Michael Daly writes for us about housing issues, Susan Tito does a great column about gardening and Linda Slezak, of Slow Food East End, does a great local food column. I think there are others I’m forgetting at the moment. If so, I apologize.

Q: Speaking of the old fashioned aesthetic, your last name is Young. By any chance are you connected to the Reverend Young from New Haven Connecticut, who founded Southold Town in 1640?

A: Yes. He’s my 9th Great Grandfather.

Q: So did you grow up around here? Does your family’s deep roots out here influence your perspective and reporting?

A: I grew up a lot of places out here. I was born in Riverhead, and when my parents divorced I lived in Greenport and Mattituck but spent the weekends in Riverhead. And I lived in Sag Harbor. That  was such a great place to cut my teeth in journalism. If I had the time I’d write the Cannery Row of Sag Harbor. There were such great characters there then. I’m probably one of the few people left around here that’s nostalgic for the potato farms. The vineyards were a big change. The North Fork is very different from when I was growing up. 

The Experienced William Ris Gallery Plants New Roots on the North Fork

Chatting with Mary Cantone (pictured), the gallery owner & director

Q: The William Ris Gallery is relatively new on the North Fork, but it’s not a new gallery, right?

A: This year is the gallery’s 51st anniversary. My mother and brother founded the gallery in 1966 in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Harrisburg. William Ris was my brother; we renamed it for him after he died, very young, in 1970.

I was 14 when they founded the gallery. I was exposed to exceptional work from the beginning and learned what good work is. I have a good eye and carefully pick and choose my gallery's offering. 

In 1971 we opened a second location in Stone Harbor, on the Jersey shore. It's a summer resort and destination on a beautiful barrier island. Both of those galleries in NJ and PA were open simultaneously for decades, though we eventually focused on NJ only. Over the decades we built a fine reputation as a result of the varied stable of fine artists we represent.

I closed the Stone Harbor gallery in January of this year after 45 years because I wanted to focus on the North Fork and live here full time.   Q: How did you get to the North Fork from PA & NJ?

A: I was introduced to the North Fork by my daughter and son-in-law several years ago. I wasn’t ready to make the transition right away. First I bought a house in Jamesport and looked for the right location for the gallery.  

When I found my favored location was available—adjacent to the Sherwood House Vineyards Tasting Room—I immediately visualized my gallery in there, but thought about it for several months before committing. But the space is perfect, a natural fit—art and wine-seamlessly cohesive, unique and absolutely beautiful. I decided to make the move.

I kept both galleries open for a year, but then closed the New Jersey location because it was such a short season on the Jersey shore. It's more year-round on the North Fork. I wanted that for our artists. And the reception has been beyond expectation.

Q: Does the William Ris Gallery have any specialties? Do you focus on a certain type of art or artist?

A: We are known for excellence and variety. I don’t want people to come in here and define the gallery as one genre. We have many styles, subjects, mediums and price points. That’s what we’re known for, and that’s what we’re continuing. We represent exceptional artists. The gallery walls are hung "salon style" which makes the experience different from most galleries. 

Q: If someone stopped in right now, what could they see?

A: Representational and abstract work—painting, sculpture, mixed media, photography and American Craft. Before I moved to the North Fork, I represented mostly East Coast artists. After the move, I started my search for Long Island, NYC and North Fork artists including Marilyn Weiss, Charles Wildbank, Max Moran, David  Peikon, Valerie Zeeman, Eve Behar, Sandra Bloodworth, Scott McIntire, Keith Mantell, Anahi DeCanio, Eileen Dawn Skretch, Daniel Pollera, Larry Johnston, Marrisa Bridge, Susan Saunders, Devin Cecil Wishing, Madeline Meryash, Nick Cordone, Christine D'Addario, Kirk Larsen, Martha McAleer,  Miro Sinovcic, David Lyttleton Smith, Shawn Sullivan, Alexander Adell, David Tyndall, Jane McGraw Teubner and Carol Young.  

There is a wealth of talent on Long Island. Artists and I have found each other which has made my decision to relocate even more gratifying.    Q: Do you have any shows coming up?

A: In August we will be exhibiting a collection of works by Charles Wildbank.  I’m also planning a two person show in August highlighting compositions with gold leaf collaborated on by Long Island artist Madeline Meryash and NYC artist Devin Cecil Wishing.

People can see work on the gallery website, and I post daily on Instagram and Facebook which allows me to communicate with my gallery followers. Social media is a great platform and forum on which I can share work and give my artists the exposure they deserve.

While I have shows, it’s important to know I have a continuing, rotating exhibit of represented artists; their works are always here. When displaying them, I make sure to hang art in ways to highlight how different pieces relate to each other and work with each other so people can experience it they way they would at home. I really enjoy curating the works that way, relating them to each other and the space.

Q: Anything else we should know about the gallery?

A: I am now offering the gallery space as a venue to rent for small business gatherings, small intimate parties and weddings; up to 40 people. 

It’s not for everyone, as we have rules to be sure to keep the art safe, but for the right event it's a special backdrop. We hosted a wedding reception earlier this year & are hosting an engagement party next month that will include a large collection by NYC artist Marilyn Weiss.

My focus and strength is in building relationships with my artists and clients and collectors. I work closely with designers and allow on-approval opportunities before committing.

Q: What do you like about having your gallery on the North Fork, since you’ve served art markets in other states?

A: There is a sophisticated audience on the East End of Long Island, both on the North and South Forks, that appreciates fine art. This makes it satisfying to me and my artists. I say this is "serious fun!"

The broad  minded arts community  has embraced me—I feel so fortunate to have met all these special people & talented artists. I’ve felt far more welcome more quickly than I ever could have imagined. 18 months in and I’m finding my rhythm.

As I’ve gotten settled here, I’m able to grow my staff so maybe I’ll get a call from talented people reading this. Also, beyond the wonderful art scene, I’m here in part to be closer to my adult children.  

Q: Speaking of your adult children, you grew up in the gallery business and it’s been a family affair for decades—are you kids involved? Will the gallery continue into a third generation?

A: Both of my kids and my son-in-law have an interest in the business and help out, particuarly with my website and digital marketing. Both of my kids live & have careers in NYC. They are learning from me. I have every expectation that one day they will carry it on. 

Inside Honoring the Hands, Thursday at Martha Clara

David Page of Shinn Estate Vineyards, Anne Kauffman Nolon, President and CEO of HRHCare Community Health, and New York Times Chief Wine Critic Eric Asimov at Honoring the Hands 2016

Interview with Anne Kauffman Nolon, MPH. If you can't attend, please consider donating.

Q: Honoring the Hands is a fundraiser for HRHCare. So, what’s HRHCare?

Anne: HRHCare is 501c (3) nonprofit health care organization designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). We started in Peekskill in 1975, and now we operate 28 health centers throughout lower New York State. We are focused on serving people that have a tough time accessing health services; such as agricultural workers, the elderly, the uninsured or under-insured, and more.

Typical barriers to health care access include affordability, transportation, hours of operation, and language. FQHCs address these barriers in practical ways that helps patients. For agricultural workers, we help to break down barriers by making a sliding fee scale available based on family size and income, offering transportation services and assuring a local bus stop is in walking distance of a site, establishing convenient hours, and hiring multilingual staff.

We serve over 150,000 people in the Hudson Valley and Long Island. In Suffolk County, we serve about 65,000 people, 5,000 of whom are agricultural workers. On the East End, we serve about 13,000 patients at our Greenport site, Riverhead site, and new site in Southampton.

Q: HRHCare stands for Hudson River HealthCare? How did you get from the Hudson Valley to the East End of Long Island?

Anne: We were started by a group of concerned people who felt that there was a lack of affordable, high-quality health care services available in Peekskill. In the late 80’s, we became the designated provider for agricultural workers in the southern part of New York State.

In 2003, we were invited to come to Long Island because of our expertise in providing health care services for agricultural workers. Sister Margaret of St. John the Evangelist Church in Riverhead was a big driver of that move. We started in Greenport with a reimbursement system with local doctors who could then serve agricultural workers. That wasn’t enough capacity! In 2007, we bought and renovated the Greenport site.

In 2011, the county and state health departments reached out to us because they wanted to expand health care services to a cost-effective, Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) provider like an FQHC. We’re recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a Level 3 PCMH – the highest level. Starting with the Elsie Owens Health Center in Coram, we worked together to create a system under the auspices of HRHCare, finishing in 2015 with Riverhead.

Our growth in Suffolk has been notable over the past four years as we brought seven new sites into our health system originally operated by the Department of Health. We now have nine different health centers in Suffolk, from Wyandanch to Greenport.  In the coming year, we think we’ll serve 75,000 patients in Suffolk County alone, with an expanded site in Riverhead.

Q: So, you’ve been serving people on the East End for over a decade, but this is only the 3rd annual Honoring the Hands. How did the event get started, and does it fund anything in particular?

Anne: Barbara Shinn and David Page, formerly of Shinn Estate Vineyards, and Jonathan Russo and Deborah Grayson, helped to organize the first one.   Barbara was aware of a program called “Days of Health” that involved outreach into the farm fields of Michigan to perform health screenings. They brought the idea to us in Suffolk County and, along with Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, sponsored the first event to raise money for our own “Days of Health.”

That enabled us to reach beyond our doors and go into the fields to bring care to people where they work – including a consultation with a bilingual physician or pediatrician, blood pressure and HIV screenings, vaccinations, and health insurance information and enrollment.

In the first year, we saw 100 people at our “Days of Health” who had never had exposure to our health centers. When our screenings detected issues that needed follow up, we were able to make appointments, arrange transportation, and make it happen.

The farmers and the Farm Bureau were very interested in expanding the services. The Long Island Farm Bureau, Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, and the Long Island Wine Council have all become partners. We’re excited to hold more “Days of Health” in the future as an outreach arm of our comprehensive services on Long Island.

Q: So, this event helps HRHCare bring health screenings and follow up services directly to workers in the field?

Anne: Yes, but it’s laying the groundwork for something even more special – a mobile health center van, like the one we have in the Hudson Valley, which makes it much easier to go out into the field and offer our services. A mobile health center costs $250,000 to purchase, and even more to maintain and staff with medical professionals so we can provide comprehensive care on the spot.

After the first Honoring the Hands, we put $50,000 toward a mobile health center, and $50,000 the next year. We’re hoping to raise another $50,000 or more this year, and combine it with grants and special donations to get the new van in the field as fast as possible.

Q: Does the East End provide any unique challenges in serving our workers?

Anne: The East of End of Long Island is a rural community with a rural population of workers. Rural health care access in itself is often difficult to achieve because of the barriers I mentioned previously, but also is more difficult to attract and hire physicians and nursing staff who must balance the reality of the cost of living with years-long employment in a rural environment.

Q: So, Honoring the Hands ticket buyers can certainly feel good about their purchase, since it’s investing in the health of the workers making the wine they’re drinking. But with these events, the event itself is important. So, what should ticket holders expect?

Anne: A beautiful setting, delicious food and wine, a fun wine contest called a “smackdown”, and a live auction with big prizes – like a trip to Puerta Vallarta.

Martha Clara is hosting, and food from Lombardi’s Love Lane and Noah’s will be served at stations. There will be a wine tasting booth, and the wine “smackdown” is fun to watch—or if you know a little about wine, fun to compete in.

The event starts at 7 this Thursday, July 13, at Martha Clara Vineyards, and tickets will be available at the door. So please, come join us!

Q: What’s a wine “smackdown?”

Anne: Oh, they do blind tastings and then ask the participants multiple choice questions about what they tasted. The questions start out easy—was that a white or a red—and get harder. One wrong answer and you’re out. Each year about 25 people participate (more can join), and the rest of the crowd cheers them on.

Q: How did you get involved with HRHCare?

Anne: I started as a Vista Volunteer in the early 70’s and spent time in a community health center. I didn’t want to do anything else with my career but continue to be involved in health care services for people who have difficulty accessing them. I went to Peekskill to lead the health center and never left.

HRHCare is now nearly 30 community health centers with 1,200 employees, including 250 clinicians serving the people of Suffolk and the Hudson Valley. I know it has been a constant guide for me that I grew up on a farm in Central Pennsylvania. The care and health of agricultural workers and our entire farm community is very important. Continuing to make health care access a priority is a responsibility to which we at HRHCare remain dedicated.