A closer look at Long Island farm life

Britney Accettella, education program manager at the Suffolk

Britney Accettella, education program manager at the Suffolk County Farm and Education Center in Yaphank, holds a piglet, one of the newest animals born on the farm. (June 15, 2013) (Credit: Randee Daddona)

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Mooing cows, insistent bleating lambs, clucking chickens, rooting pigs. No, these aren't new lyrics to "Old MacDonald." These are the sounds and sights on farms across Long Island. Farmers are throwing open their gates and allowing Islanders to wander through fields and lean over fences to experience farm life.

At the Suffolk County Farm in Yaphank, visitors can meet the farm's many four-legged inhabitants.

"People need to understand that this is a real, working farm," says education manager Britney Accettella. "So there will be smells, and you will see manure."

Other farm tours, such as at Crossroads in Malverne, focus more on growing fruits and vegetables. "Tourgoers will see how to grow more food with less space," says Meaghan Corcoran, farm director.

Word to the wise: Open-toed shoes are discouraged for safety and comfort reasons.

Here are some farms that offer tours and what you can expect to see.

Catapano Dairy Farm

WHEN | WHERE By reservation, 33705 North Rd. (County Rte. 48), Peconic

INFO 631-765-8042, catapanodairyfarm.com

ADMISSION $10 per person (minimum 10 per tour)

The 45- to 60-minute guided tours cover goat dairying, cheesemaking and the history of the Catapano family. The adventurous can even try their hand at milking a goat (the farm has almost 100). And, what would a goat farm tour be without cheese samples and a sample-size bar of goat milk soap to take home? "A lot of things surprise people when they visit," says farm manager Debbie Slack. The biggest: Hens don't need a rooster to lay eggs.

Crossroads Farm

WHEN | WHERE 10:30 a.m. last Saturday of the month, June-October, 480 Hempstead Ave., Malverne

INFO 516-881-7900

ADMISSION Free

The newly introduced tours at the 5-acre farm owned by the Nassau Land Trust center around what's growing in the field and farming techniques.

"We'll have different projects going on, like weeding, planting and harvesting that visitors can take part in," Corcoran says of the farm, which is also home to more than 40 chickens. Field crops range from tomatoes to strawberries, and there may be eggs to gather. Those so inclined can also get up close and personal with the farm's colony of bees while learning about pollination. "We welcome people to stay after the tour and help us plant," Corcoran says.

Hallockville Museum Farm

WHEN | WHERE noon-4 p.m. Fridays-Sundays, May-December, 6038 Sound Ave., Riverhead

INFO 631-298-5292, hallockville.com

ADMISSION $7 ($5 ages 5-12)

This 60- to 90-minute tour covers the history of the nearly 250-year-old farm, livestock and farming practices past and present.

Visitors will look at a model B John Deere tractor from the 1940s and a John Deere horse-drawn sickle mower.

While there are cows, sheep and chickens on the farm, many visitors walk away talking about the farm's four-seater outhouse. "They always want to know if four people really used it at once," says assistant director Beth Motschenbacher.

There are sheep and cows. Two of the sheep are a less-often-seen chocolate brown.

Sang Lee Farms

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays, 25180 County Rd. 48, Peconic. Reservations preferred.

INFO 631-734-7001, sangleefarms.com

ADMISSION $15

After about 45 minutes of walking in the fields (tastes of what's growing are encouraged, says co-owner Karen Lee) and sampling what's in the market kitchen, tour-goers view the farm's 17 greenhouses to visit with the nursery specialist.

Suffolk County Farm and Education Center

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. Tuesdays (other times by reservation for groups of 10 or more), 350 Yaphank Ave., Yaphank

INFO 631-852-4600, ccesuffolk.org/farm

ADMISSION $7 (free younger than 3)

This 60- to 75-minute tour includes viewing pens housing everything from goats and sheep to horses, pigs, cattle and beyond.

"The llama and the alpaca are the things that many people haven't seen," says Accettela. The peacock, she says, is another crowd-pleaser.

Tourgoers also will hear about and view microfarming, backyard animal keeping, raised planting beds, beekeeping and composting.

Garden of Eve Organic Farm and Market

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m. Aug. 11 during the Tomato Taste-Off Festival, 4558 Sound Ave. Riverhead

INFO 631-722-8777, gardenofevefarm.com

ADMISSION Free

Co-owner Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht says the tour will include tastings in the field and discussions on organic farming and practices. Visitors also will hear about how the animals -- chickens, sheep, turkeys -- are cared for on the farm, about composting, mulching and the use of organic fertilizers.

The Golden Earthworm Organic Farm

WHEN |WHERE By appointment, 652 Peconic Bay Blvd., Riverhead

INFO 631-722-3302, goldenearthworm.com

ADMISSION $6-$10

Chef-turned-farmer Matthew Kurek and his wife, Maggie Wood, are the driving force behind this certified organic farm that grows more than 100 varieties of vegetables. Visitors will walk through the fields to see what is making an appearance, as well as visit the greenhouses to see what will go into the fields next. Visitors also can take part in hands-on activities.

"It could be harvesting a crop such as tomatoes or garlic," Wood says. "I don't think it will be weeding. Nobody likes that."

Long Island Livestock Company

WHEN | WHERE By appointment, 125 Gerard Rd., Yaphank

INFO 631-680-6721, lilivestockco.com

ADMISSION $7

This 60- to 90-minute tour takes visitors into the pens with llamas, alpacas, sheep, goats, potbelly pigs and rabbits.

"This is my home and these are my babies and they're all used to being handled in a public forum," says Tabbethia Haubold, who owns and lives on the 17-acre property. "My sheep will come up to you like a dog would to be petted."

Tours include a stop in Haubold's studio to see fiber being turned into yarn and finished products.

Organics Today Farm

WHEN | WHERE By reservation, 169 Washington St., East Islip. Reservations required a week in advance.

INFO 631-650-4424, organicstodayfarms.com

ADMISSION $5 (10-person minimum)

Farmer Michael Massino's 45- to 60-minute walking tour covers everything on this organic farm. He grow grows more than 50 varieties of vegetables, many of them heirlooms, on 3 acres. Massino is a proponent of organic and alternate-energy practices, so visitors will walk away with a clearer understanding of organic practices, solar power, recycling, collecting rainwater and the importance of honeybees and how to care for them. A look at the solar-powered greenhouse also is included.

Restoration Farm

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m., first Sunday of the month, June-October, Spagnoli Road, rear of Old Bethpage Village Restoration property, Old Bethpage

INFO 631-842-2283, restorationfarm.com

ADMISSION Free

Following a walk through the fields to see common and heirloom vegetables, visitors will hear about the importance of crop rotation, seed saving and organic ways to deal with pests and diseases. Meet the farm's free-range chickens and tour the coop and see if there are any eggs to be gathered.

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