Florence Fabricant, October 23, 2017
The latest newcomers to flock to Eastern Long Island’s North Fork, between Riverhead and Greenport, are not seeking some cutting-edge new vacation spot. They’re year-rounders: grazing sheep, goats and herds of cattle. And they’re changing the character of the area’s farms.
The North Fork — the peninsula between the Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound, long known for acres of undulating farmland — is taking a step back in a sense, with the introduction of livestock in an area where, since the late 1970s, the farms have grown mostly produce, grapes and nursery stock.
Wine grapes did not exist before the early 1970s, when the Hargrave family pioneered Long Island winemaking, but farm animals were part of the culture going back to Colonial days. They gradually disappeared over the last century as farming became more industrialized and less diverse, and consumers bought their meat and poultry in supermarkets.
But North Fork farmstands that have lately included locally grown shishito peppers and multicolored carrots, along with corn and seasonal stalks of brussels sprouts, are starting to sell their own chickens, eggs and heritage pork.
“Today the consumer is interested in knowing where their meat is coming from,” said Robert Carpenter, the administrative director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, a trade group based in Calverton.