John Smith, the owner of Sag Harbor’s Serene Green Farm Stand, has fond memories of his grandfather’s Water Mill farm, a nameless estate that sold 10 years ago. So when opportunity knocked, he purchased an abandoned property on Noyac Road, and with his wife, Laura, retrofitted and debuted the land in 2010 as Serene Green Farm Stand (“Serene” being the name of one of their daughters). From day one the response has been “overwhelming,” says Smith, who also manages the East End Community Organic (EECO) farm stand in East Hampton. “I can’t tell you how special it is to hear people say it’s the best thing to happen in this area.”
Welcoming and well-stocked, with an emphasis on local and organic produce, Serene Green offers the full seasonal gamut of pristine vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers. On one acre Smith grows blueberries (his personal favorite), blackberries, aronia berries, tomatoes, garlic, hot peppers, onions, arugula, mesclun, spinach, winter and yellow squash, eggplant and 12 varieties of herbs.
And what Smith doesn’t grow himself he fronts for local purveyors: fresh seafood (possibly lobster, swordfish, mussels, sea scallops, fluke, flounder or Montauk rock crabs) culled from the waters of Montauk and Shinnecock by local fisherman Alex Dzieman and son Alex Jr.; cow’s milk cheeses from Mecox Bay Dairy; goat and sheep’s milk cheeses from New York State; fresh bread from the Blue Duck; and selected cakes, pies and cookies from other regional vendors.
Though Serene Green “fills a 25-year void in the Noyac and Sag Harbor area,” Smith knows a successful farm stand is built on more than securing the right corner to set up shop. That said, he is quick to thank Laura for her tireless support and exceptional front-of-house people skills. “We offer a personal service, and my wife is a wonderful lady. It’s all about personality on a farm stand.”
It’s also about commitment to a punishing lifestyle, says Smith, who hasn’t had a day off since March and spends “120 hours a week, seven days a week” managing both Serene Green and EECO’s farm stand. “I am beyond exhausted, but it’s worth it.” Smith aims to remain open past Thanksgiving this year to “see how it works,” and is planning “something special” for Halloween—given his penchant for providing more than expected, Serene Green should be on your list of late-October touring.
At a time when many local farmers are struggling to stay afloat, Smith is in the middle of negotiations to expand his offerings and his property, a goal with bigger implications. “It’s not just about my business and what we farm. I have nothing but the highest regard for true farmers and I have relationships with farmers who might lose their farms. We are on the edge of seeing what’s left disappear rapidly. I’m willing to fight as hard as I can to prevent that.”
Serene Green farm stand is located at 3980 Noyac Road in Sag Harbor. For more information visit serenegreeninc.com or call 631.334.6311.