Grist for the Mill

A few months ago, Eileen Roaman, a Springs resident who raises bees and chickens and keeps a home garden, had a seasonal epiphany. The number of families visiting local food pantries swells in winter, just as many nearby farmers have lost their main roadside customers.
So, working with the Amagansett Food Institute, Roaman quickly raised $15,000 in small and large donations, bought crops from a group of local farmers and delivered it to local pantries. “It’s tightening the circle,” Roaman said of the harmonious transaction. Pantry visitors got a wider selection of fresh produce; farmers got new customers.
In fact, there were similar motivations behind the Food Pantry Farm, a three-acre section and two hoop houses at EECO Farm in East Hampton, whose entire harvest is committed to local food pantries. Started three years ago, the farm makes weekly deliveries to five local pantries—upward of 16 tons a year that includes farmstand standards like tomatoes and corn, as well as the hot peppers, collard greens and other ingredients pantry patrons are cooking with.
Tapping into unused resources—and unsuspecting generosity—was also the goal of Southold town officials who added a refrigerated cooler to make it easier for hunters to drop off excess meat, and for people in need to pick it up.
If the New Year is a good time for remembering to give back to our community, it’s also the right season to dote on our loved ones.
Consider the new crop of cupcake bakers, cake sculptors and sweets makers in our midst. Former Nassau County mayor, and new cocoa convert, Roxanne Browning has been staging sold-out chocolate and wine tastings on the North Fork. Meanwhile, Miche Bacher’s Greenport sweets shop has been reinvented as Mali B Sweets, with the addition of fellow baker Nanao Anton. The two won “Best Cake in the Nation” honors from Brides magazine, are rolling out a chocolate bar with local potato chips, and offer patrons their latest experimental cake filling in the form of ever-changing little bonbons called “Twinks.”
Mary’s Marvelous at the end of Main Street in Amagansett is a standby for locals seeking such ingenious forms of nourishment as eggs Colombian, bone-warming soups, and a boutique of edible gifts, from granola to Mary Os. (This time of year, Mary’s is also the last, reliable food option for eastbound lighthouse roadtrippers.)
In the spirit of this Holiday issue, we’ve decorated the page borders with our local gift picks—from cheesemonger baskets to a Montauk-born dog food, to starter kits for the aspiring oyster grower in your life.
So whether you donate to a food pantry, invest in a CSA or just buy a cake from down the street, there are plenty of sweet opportunities to enjoy and support all that’s around.