In 1905, protoMad Man Hal B. Fullerton set out to prove—with camera and 240,000-acre experimental farm in the Pine Barrens—the fecundity of Long Island soil. As Delia Casa reports in a wondrous photo essay, Fullerton encouraged turn-of-the-century farmers to plant Long Island’s “wasteland,” and boosted freight shipping of produce—the ultimate goal of his employer, the Long Island Rail Road. This was decades before the first suburbs redefined “development” as fewer, not more, farms. But pioneering farm families like the Ludlows of Mecox Bay have endured centuries of agrarian peaks and valleys, partly because they were willing to reconsider and reinvent. Just a decade ago, Art and Harry Ludlow left potatoes and hitched their futures to a cornucopia of agricultural start-ups—from raw-milk cheese to an on-farm commercial kitchen to pastured pigs.
Entrepreneurship on the farm sure beats standing still. Just ask the dozens of vendors with rapt farmers market customers from Montauk to Westhampton. Or the “nano” brewers on Long Island’s beer trail, so small their limited supply gets drunk only at nearby restaurants and bars. (City suds scouts are already calling for bigger batches.)
Today, as much as anything, reinvention in our food chain bubbles up from what we put on our shopping list. Which is why from September 26 to October 6, Edible magazines across the state invite you to join in the second annual Eat Drink Local week by celebrating all the sips and sups that sate us.
· Try one of our partner restaurants, like the dynamic duo Harvest and East by Northeast in Montauk.
· Pour a new New York wine, like the Wild Ferment Chardonnay from Onabay.
· Commune with some underappreciated local ingredients, like the small oily menhaden that Long Island boats have been scooping up and turning into fertilizer since the 1700s.
· Become a self-declared “corn-iac,” like actor Alec Baldwin (“You wait until September because it gets better the later it is. Don’t you agree?”)
· Attend the first Long Island wine auction, the Edible Institute at the New School, and the heirloom veggie auction at Sotheby’s.
Joining in is easy. And no matter what you do on our very fun, eat drink local to-do list, we promise you’ll end up inspired and well-fed.