The Foodie Tour committee of the North Fork Reform Synagogue started planning the 14th annual self-guided tour of the North Fork’s farms, vineyards and artisanal food producers back in January. By March, it became clear that the tour, which drew 600 people last year, was facing an unprecedented dilemma.
“It’s not going to be safe for people to go on a tour this year," said committee member Kay Freeman. "But it’s never been more important to support the farmers and vintners and producers that the tour features. We realized that, this year, the tour was even more important.”
Freeman, 77, noted that the committee is not very tech-savvy. “A lot of us are elderly, and learning new things is not the easiest thing.” But they had all managed to figure out Zoom and now, as they gathered virtually using their laptops and tablets, they decided to leap into creating a virtual tour.
Bob Deak, 77, and Amy Gadol (“in her 60s”) took on the responsibility of learning how to make a website and others set about finding farmers “willing to do things in a different way.” Another member had a friend, Stephan Alessi, a New York City-based director-videographer-photographer, and he agreed to produce feature videos, each about 30 minutes long, of five venues, including KK’s The Farm and Feisty Acres poultry farm in Southold, and Peconic Escargot snail ranch in Cutchogue.
The videos will go live at northforkfoodietour.com on Sept. 13. Starting at 10 a.m., there will also be live Zoom webinars such as “Winter Seed Sowing” with master gardener Sharna Nicholson, “Quick Pickling” with chef Casey Corn, “Alternative Packaging and its Impact on Wine” with Shelby Hearn of Suhru Wines in Cutchogue and “How to taste wine like a pro” with winemaker Lilia Pérez of RGNY Wine in Riverhead. The hosts will speak and demonstrate for about 30 minutes and reserve 10 minutes for Q&A.
The virtual Foodie Tour is free of charge, though contributions can be made directly through the website. Freeman said that the organizers “hope that people remember that it usually costs $25” and will contribute accordingly.
There are also a limited number of $100 VIP tickets that entitle the holder to early access to the videos, a $50 gift certificate for the Suhru Wines Tasting House, and access to “Wine Making From the Vineyard to the Bottle,” a soon-to-be produced video by winemaker Russell Hearn of Lieb Cellars, Bridge Lane Wine, Suhru Wines, and T’Jara Vineyards.
For more information and to register for the tour, go to northforkfoodietour.com.
A previous version of this story misstated the number of participants last year.