On the culinary trip that is 27, Pike Farms provides a refuge from the highway.
SAGAPONACK—The mouthwatering attractions pop up one after another, beckoning drivers like the all-you-can-eat dinner offers in Las Vegas. Except the temptation is more healthy. And less gaudy.
There’s an oversized tomato. A shimmering ear of sweet corn. A hand-painted menu of available victuals.
Sagg Main Street in Sagaponack might hold the greatest density of farmstands on the East End. It’s natural to stop here for food, and not just because this thoroughfare historically connected the farms of Sagaponack with the port of Sag Harbor and markets elsewhere. The strip is also conveniently on the way to and from some prime beaches.
Closest to the highway and just past Loaves & Fishes, the first stand sits against a pastel canvas of red, yellow, and purple zinnias by mid-summer. “It’s somewhat strategic,” Jim Pike said of the planting. “The flowers do make a nice backdrop. People like coming here just for the experience of looking around.”
In fact, the craving can generate a small traffic clot here on a busy weekend afternoon. Or even at 9:00 on a Tuesday morning in June. “It’s tough getting set up sometimes,” said Jennifer Pike, often seen behind the stand while her husband drives a tractor through nearby fields.
It still beats selling cauliflower from a truck on Highway 27, her husband added. “It’s very unpleasant on the highway,” Mr. Pike said, distracted by a diesel Mercedes idling nearby. “There’s the constant din of traffic. People like to do business on the backroads.”
Compared with the other Sagg Street stands, Pike Farms is deluxe, sprawling with several wooden trailers retrofitted with roofs and filled by August with half a dozen different tomatoes (from orange and yellow cherries to beefsteaks in shades of red and pink), muskmelon, baskets stuffed with beans, berries, and basil, not to mention potatoes and peppers, and most produce you’d find at your neighborhood greengrocer. “We grow a lot of our own stuff and people do appreciate that,” said Mr. Pike.
The stand opens toward the end of May—”from strawberry season to Thanksgiving”—and is one of the first with homegrown tomatoes, planted in a greenhouse in March. “We’ll start with strawberries,” said Mrs. Pike. “We’ll have some arugula, lettuce, and herb pots. We should have greenhouse tomatoes shortly after, until we have outdoor ones.”
The Pikes have found an important niche among million-dollar estates. Mr. Pike, who is originally from Westchester County, started farming on the East End two decades ago. He worked with several area farmers before opening his own stand in 1987. He now rents roughly 65 acres in and around Sagaponack and grows a dizzying selection of vegetables for his stand.
Because they raise so many different crops, the Pikes can use parcels that are too small for Sagaponack’s large potato growers. “We’ve had people come to us and say ‘I’ve got 10 acres in front of my house and maybe you could do something with it,'” said Mrs. Pike. In fact, the majority of the parcels the Pikes rent are owned by non-farmers, who are sometimes quite generous. “One of our landlords just wants produce. We don’t even pay rent.”
The neighbors also seem to tolerate the sounds of early morning field work or dust kicked up by tractors in the middle of summer. “People are remarkably good natured about our business being there,” said Mrs. Pike, “Sometimes they will ask, ‘Do you think maybe because I’m having a cocktail party, you think maybe you could not be there between four and six on Saturday night?'” A small price to pay for having fresh food grown nearby.
WHAT: Pike Farms
WHERE: Sagg Main St., Sagaponack
WHEN: Daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., June-Nov
MUST TRY: Tomatoes, sweet corn, berries, flowers