It starts slowly in May with asparagus. Come June, local fruit and vegetable fans are just starting to whet their appetites. Strawberries can show up the end of May, but by Father’s Day, they are in full swing. June also provides the East End-weather willing-with shell peas, green zucchini and string beans. Lettuces also start to come out in June, as do cabbage and broccoli.
At Doug Cooper’s farm on Breakwater Road in Mattituck, Swiss chard and beets are usually on the stand by the middle of June. (South Fork farms are just a week or two behind.) Cooper’s farm, next door to the Greek church, is a favorite of pick-yourown fans, and many members of the Greek community come in from Astoria to be the first to gather zucchini blossoms. Cooper reminds farm-stand shoppers that sometimes the produce on the shelf can come from a different farmer. At his stand all is grown on the land that his family has been farming for 200 years.
The Southold Town Code specifies that at least 60 percent of a stand’s produce must come from the farm behind the stand. The other 40 percent can come from another farmer in Southold or be promotional or accessory items complementary to the specific farm-stand agricultural operation.
The town code in Riverhead says, “The farmer may sell supporting farm products and farm products not grown by the farmer, provided that the area devoted to the sale of said products at no time exceeds 40 percent of the total merchandising area.” Or, as an employee in the planning department put it, “It’s supposed to be 60 percent” grown on the farm. East Hampton town has no official recommendations, while Southampton offers the strictest stipulations: products not grown by the farm must not exceed 20 percent of the farm stand’s total area or shelf space.
The abundance of strawberries in June guarantees one knows exactly where they come from. At Harbes Family Farm on Sound Avenue in Mattituck, Patricia DiVello, Ed Harbes’s sister, grows strawberries on seven acres. For a more informal operation, visit the Domaleski farm in Cutchogue, where you can brave the heat and gather what you may. And on the South Fork, both Hank’s Farmstand (324 County Road 39, Southampton) and the Green Thumb (829 Montauk Highway, Water Mill) have berries for the picking.
Or buy pre-picked berries by the pint or quart. They all love it if you bring your own bag.