Remembering KK Haspel

Like the rest of the community on the East End, Edible is extremely saddened by the passing of KK Haspel this weekend. I was going to say “like the rest of the farm/food community” but I stopped because I know KK’s reach extended well beyond those who shared her commitment to the soil.

Haspel was featured in a story by Geraldine Pluenneke about biodynamic farming in our Spring 2011 issue.

Haspel’s heirloom tomatoes and greens may throw chefs into superlatives, but Haspel is more impressed by what her growing techniques have done to the ground. “Ten years ago this was all sand, and now it has a foot of humus,” she says, gesturing to a grassy area near her greenhouse. “It normally takes 100 years to build one-inch of top soil.”

Her dedication to growing the soil was appreciated by the chefs who used her produce.

“Nothing compares with what comes out of her garden because it’s that vibrant in flavor, that vibrant in color,” says chef Gerry Hayden, who features K.K. Haspel’s salad greens on his menu at North Fork Table & Inn. “The spice level on her wild arugula is 10 times greater than any other grower.”

I know chef Robby Beaver of the Frisky Oyster would drive down to her roadside farm stand before dinner service to buy tomatoes and then just feature them sliced on a plate. I spent time in her greenhouse as she talked about the ground and food while she smiled and exuded a quietude that made you feel her communion with the earth. It was a beautiful place.

Our condolences to her children and husband, Ira, on their loss. The East End is poorer without her.