We were first introduced to The Farm Beyond farmers Melissa and Ed Henrey in a story Northforker editor Vera Chinese wrote back in March, at the beginning of this year’s growing season. They announced they would be growing “farmed foraged crops” on a five acre organic plot leased from the Peconic Land Trust on Youngs Avenue in Southold and selling their produce and flowers at a “pop-up” farm stand on Fridays and Saturdays. It is the height of the harvest now and I stopped in on Friday afternoon to see how their first season was going.
Melissa showed me a bunch of winter melon squash shoots, which I didn’t even know were edible. She said she just snaps them off where they are tender and sautés them in olive oil and garlic.
“I want to encourage people to eat any part of a plant that has culinary value,” she said.
“We have a lot of repeat customers and people come because of word of mouth. Restaurant chefs come and see things laid out on the stand. I think because of our location its been very successful. We are off the beaten path. The farm stand is never the same two weeks in a row.”
Ed agrees with her.
“It all touches back to our vision,” he said. “We have seen people coming out from Brooklyn and New York City showing a lot of interest in what we are doing. It’s been huge!’
They planned this year to only grow on one acre with 70 varieties of crops and ended up planting all five acres with around 360 crops, including flowers. The couple is passionate about plant diversity and uses an integrated pest management approach.
“We also use cover crops such as buckwheat, field peas and sorghum which we push down as mulch on the soil surface a ‘no till’ method of farming,” Ed said. “Farming is a way to take our passion for plants and use the environment to actively engage with nature.”
Melissa named for me her top five favorites.
1. Stinging nettles, which have a smoky spinach flavor
2. Fraises des bois or wild alpine strawberries
3. Winter melon squash shoots
4. French sorrel
5. French heirloom yellow carrots or juane de doubs