Nestled within the pine barrens of Hampton Bays is Sweet Woodland Farm, the self-sustaining family homestead of Rachel Bristel Stephens, her husband, Mike Stephens, and their two children, Ben and Rayna.
I met Rachel last year at the Hallockville Museum Farm seed-saving seminar given by Steph Gaylor, a voracious seed saving expert, farmer and owner of Invincible Summer Farms. Rachel was attending this seminar because Sweet Woodland Farm grows a variety of organic heirloom vegetables, flowers and herbs from seed.
During the past two years, the Stephens have been growing their homestead steadily. The farm’s organic heirloom vegetables, berries, herbs and flowers are grown on top of a large hill. Nearby, dead pines killed by root borers this past spring were marked with tape. “Taking these trees down and opening up the area would allow us to produce more than twice as much as what we are growing now,” says Rachel.
The farm raises ducks and chickens for eggs, bees for luscious honey, guinea hens for tick maintenance, and sheep and rabbits for shearing fur into beautifully spun garments and yarns.
The family’s hatch and release program of the northern bobwhite quail deserves praise for their effort to release the quails within their natural environment in hopes to repopulate the area and to control ticks. “The bobwhites are native to the area, but have been disappearing due to over developed land,” says Rachel.
The Stephens family launched a kickstarter campaign and seeks $3,681 by Wednesday, July 30 to support their garden expansion. Pledges can earn you, organic chicken eggs, gallon bags of heirloom vegetables, jam, hand turned wooden bowls and canning workshops, to name a few. You can visit their farm stand on Saturday and Sunday between 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Homesteading classes, workshops and kids programs are offered throughout the year.
Address: Sweet Woodland Farm: 45 Old Squires Road, Hampton Bays, NY 11946 Phone: 631.594.1789
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