Connecting the small farmer with the home cook is one of the prime goals of sustainable agriculture. But, in the modern world, few home cooks live near farms.
A new breed of food retailer has emerged to solve this problem. Four local businesses are finding new ways to bring small farm harvests to Long Island kitchen tables.
Think of these new services as "beyond the CSA." Members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) pay in advance for a "share" in a particular farm; in return the farm provides a weekly box of whatever it reaps that week. CSAs are great for folks who eat a lot of vegetables, plan their meals and are up for cooking anything that shows up in the box. But they don't work for picky eaters, occasional cooks or sustainable-agricultural fence-sitters who may be satisfied with supermarket produce but not with factory-farmed meat.
The mechanics of these four new businesses vary, but, unlike CSAs, they require no contracts, membership fees or weekly commitments. Order what you want when you want. And each offers produce, dairy, eggs, meat, poultry and pantry items that are grown or made by small producers within driving distance of Long Island.
A note on seasonality: This time of year -- before even the first asparagus pops up in the Northeast -- local fruit and vegetable pickings are slim. But year-round, these four services are invaluable sources for sustainable meat and poultry. Grass-fed beef, heritage pork and pastured chicken are virtually impossible to find in local supermarkets and butcher stores. Also bear in mind that prices, as well as products, are subject to change.
RUSTIC ROOTS ORGANIC HOME DELIVERY
Jeff Moore and Emer Lloyd-Moore started Rustic Roots in 2011. The Hampton Bays residents source from Long Island and all over the Northeast and try, whenever possible, to buy organic.
Ordering: Create an account at rusticrootsdelivery.com. Minimum order is $40. Weekly order deadline is 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
Delivery: Tuesday and Thursday, depending on where you live. Fee is $10. You'll receive an email on Mondays with delivery details. Refrigerated perishables and frozen meats are boxed with cooler packs.
Current Highlights: 8 Hands Farm (Cutchogue) pastured eggs, $9 a dozen; Sepe Farms (Sandy Hook, Connecticut) lamb rib chops, $22.99 a pound; wild Alaskan black cod steaks, $32 a pound; Ronnybrook Dairy (Ancramdale, New York) milk, $5.99 a quart; frozen local sweet corn, $5.49 a pound; Lancaster Food Co. organic whole-wheat bread, $5.99.
FARM 2 KITCHEN LONG ISLAND
Founded in 2013 by Southold resident Kassata Bollman, Farm 2 Kitchen Long Island focuses on the bounty of the North Fork, with sustainably raised meats from points north and west. When local produce is not in season, Bollman tries to offer organic.
Ordering: Create an account at farm2kitchenlongisland.com. Minimum order is $40. Weekly order deadline is 11:59 p.m. Saturday
Delivery: Wednesday to Friday depending on where you live. Fees are $10.95 for the East End and Suffolk County, $12.95 for Nassau County, $14.95 for Fire Island, $28 for Shelter Island. You'll receive an email that confirms your delivery day after you place your order. Products arrive in insulated, reusable totes and pouches.
Current Highlights: Organic kale, $2.99 a bunch; Sang Lee Farms (Peconic) organic Asian vinaigrette, $9.99 a 8 ounces; Tend coffee (Shirley), $14.99 for 12 ounces; Miloski's Poultry Farm (Calverton) chicken, $18.99 for a 31/2-pound bird, ground turkey at $11.99 a pound; The Piggery (Trumansburg, New York) pork chops, $12.40 a pound; Giving Juice (Southold) almond milk, $8.99 for 16 ounces; Southold Fish Market monkfish, $18.99 a pound; Tribeca Ovens frozen par-baked ciabatta, $5.89.
Long Island natives Michael Winik and Scott Reich launched Our Harvest in 2013. They source produce, meat, fish and pantry items from Long Island and beyond, and deliver the goods to 14 pickup locations on Long Island.
Ordering: Create an account at ourharvest.com. There is no minimum order. Weekly order deadline and pickup time depend on the location. For example, order deadline in West Babylon is 11:59 p.m. Monday; pickup is at CrossFit Cobalt gym from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Current Highlights: Satur Farms (Cutchogue) Swiss chard, $2.69 a bunch; Norwich Meadow Farm (Norwich, New York) organic black radishes, $2.99 a pound; Cascun Farm (Greene, New York) antibiotic-free whole chicken, $4.49 a pound; Thistle Creek Farms (Tyrone, Pennsylvania) grass-fed rib steak, $12.99 a pound; Oyster Bay littleneck clams, $4.99 a dozen; Montauk hake, $15.99 a pound; Martin's pretzels, $13.79 for 2 pounds.
Brooklyn-based Farmigo supports hundreds of "communities" in the New York metro area where members pick up their orders once a week. Many of the more than 30 communities on Long Island are based in schools and churches. West East Bistro All Natural Bistro & Wine Bar in Hicksville and Salt Air Cafe in Point Lookout are two restaurant-based communities; both restaurants use Farmigo products in their kitchens.
Ordering: Go to farmigo.com and create an account. Order deadline and pickup time depend on the location you choose. For example, order deadline for Half Hollow Hills High School East is 11:59 p.m. Thursday; pickup is 2 to 4:30 p.m. Monday.
Current Highlights: Wicklow Orchards (Highland, New York) Mutsu apples, $3 for 4; Satur Farms (Cutchogue) kabocha squash, $6; Pura Vida Fish tuna steak, $24 a pound; Griggstown Farm (Princetown, New Jersey) pastured chicken, $3.75 a pound; Sun Fed Beef (Newark, Delaware) grass-fed sirloin tip fillet steaks, $14 a pound; Acorn Hill (Walker Valley, New York) goat yogurt, $7.00 a pint; Bread Alone (Ellenville, New York) organic whole-grain bread, $5.