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Long Island CSA farms surge in popularity amid coronavirus pandemic

Multi-colored carrots at Sang Lee Farms in Peconic,

Multi-colored carrots at Sang Lee Farms in Peconic, which is offering a subscription-based farm-to-consumer program.  Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

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You’re not the only one trying to avoid the supermarket these days. Your produce is, too.

These days, some of the freshest, healthiest fruits and vegetables you can buy — grown right here on the Island — are being purchased directly from farmers by consumers through community-supported agriculture programs. And while not new, CSAs, in which Islanders contract with farmers for fresh-picked produce that is delivered or picked up weekly from June to November, have exploded in popularity this year, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We’re experiencing a huge uptick in interest,” said Maggie Wood of Golden Earthworm Organic Farm in Riverhead, noting that between 93 and 97 percent of this year’s “shares” are already spoken for. “Usually at this point we’re only 75 percent full.”

Lucy Senesac of Sang Lee Farms in Peconic has seen a similar surge. “People want to secure their food and guarantee they will have it in case of a supply chain disruption,” she said. They also want to know exactly who is handling it, to “get to the source and cut out the middleman,” as Wood put it.

“It’s a very low-density way of getting your food,” agreed Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht of Riverhead’s Garden of Eve farm. “People want someone they can trust and something a little more personal, which is something CSAs have always been.”

It’s true. This year, there might be minor changes in how their produce is transported — most CSAs are offering contactless delivery and/or pre-bagged items — but the basic dea is the same. Indeed, things have changed so little, “we have to remind ourselves every day of what’s happening elsewhere and take precautions,” said Senesac, noting that Sang Lee’s work force is healthy, careful to practice social distancing (easy on a farm), and almost always on the premises. “We are always quarantining together, in a way.”

All of the following Island farms offer CSA programs, most of which operate the same way. In exchange for paying upfront for a season’s worth of produce, a bag or box of fresh-picked fruits and/or veggies is picked up or delivered to spots near a consumer’s home (e.g., farmer’s markets, church parking lots). Pricing structures vary, and some farms also offer meats, dairy products, fresh-cut flowers, even beer. But it’s the produce that commands most of the attention. As Wood put it, “it’s the closest thing to growing your own food.”

Garden of Eve Organic Farm and Market (4558 Sound Ave., Riverhead): Summer and fall shares, which begin in mid-June and last 24 weeks, cost around $28 a week. Egg, beer, meat and dairy shares are also available, some through partner farms. Pickup available, delivery to three sites in Suffolk County and two in Nassau. More info: 631-722-8777,

Golden Earthworm Organic Farm (652 Peconic Bay Rd., Riverhead): 25-week vegetable shares start at $25.80 a week. Nonorganic fruit shares from Briermere Farms are also available ($92). Shares are delivered to multiple locations in Nassau and Suffolk County. More info: 631-722-3302,

Green Thumb (629 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill): Season runs from May through November. For $18 a week, CSA members can select their own produce, flowers and plants at the farm site in Water Mill. More info: 631-726-1900,

H.O.G. Farm (319 Beaver Dam Rd., Brookhaven): Hamlet Organic Garden’s 22-week vegetable shares, which run from mid-May through the end of October, are available for $31 a week or $17 for a small share. Briermere fruit shares available for 19 weeks beginning in June. All shares are available for pickup only. More info:

Natural Earth Organic Farms (2806 River Rd., Calverton): 20-week season runs from mid-June through the end of October. Total cost is $500 for pickup on the farm, $550 for delivery at multiple locations on the Island. More info:

Organics Today Farm (169 Washington St., East Islip): Summer shares, which begin in May (date to be determined) and end the first week of October, cost $550 for the season (or $500 with 24 hours of volunteer work). Pickup available only. More info: 631-480-6497,

Restoration Farm (140 Bethpage-Sweet Hollow Rd., Old Bethpage): 22-week season runs from June to October. Total cost is $1,165 for weekly shares, $630 for biweekly. On-site pickup only. Cheaper summer-only and fall-only shares also available. More info:

Sang Lee Farms (25180 County Rd. 48, Peconic): 24-week program from early June to mid-November. Season-long full shares (8-10 different vegetables each week) are $750 for pickup from the farm or designated sites on the Island, $1,230 for home delivery; partial shares (5-7 different vegetables) are $540 and $1,020 respectively. More info: 631-734-7001,

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