Brothers Emil and Kyle Breitenbach are reviving their Riverhead family’s generations-old farming legacy with the opening of their new Main Road farm stand in Aquebogue.
Breitenbach Farms lifted the garage-style doors of its modest red farm stand across the street from Verderber’s Nursery & Garden Center for a soft opening today, Friday, May 10. The location is an iconic one, operating as a farm stand for 75 years, originally as Skelly’s Farm Stand and for the last 20 years as Wells Homestead.
Owners and farmers Emil, 28, and Kyle, 22, have agriculture in their veins. Their great-grandfather, grandfather and father were potato farmers up until the 1980s, when business soured. As children, the brothers recalled spending time on the family farm with their father, retired Riverhead Police officer Emil Breitenbach Sr., and always considered agriculture a way of life.
After graduating Riverhead High School in 2009, Emil worked at local farms, including Rottkamp’s Fox Hollow Farm in Baiting Hollow and Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck. Kyle, a 2015 graduate of Riverhead, was the general manager of a music and arts store. The two always had the dream of opening a farm in the back of their mind, and when Wells Homestead became available for rent, the timing was right.
“This was something we’d been thinking about for a long time and when the farm stand was for rent, we just knew the time was now,” Emil said. “We were lucky to get this opportunity to get our family back into farming.”
Emil and Kyle signed the lease on the 8,400-sqaure-foot farm stand in January, and began rehabbing the building, upgrading the plumbing and the electric and giving it a fresh coat of paint. The sign that reads “Breitenbach Farms” was hung up Thursday evening ahead of the opening.
“Farming has been in our blood all our lives and it’s something our family has done for many, many years and it is special to be able to carry it on,” Kyle said. “Just to be in Riverhead, where we grew up, is great.”
Within the last few months, the brothers planted several areas spread across the Town of Riverhead: near their Church Lane Home, on land leased from Rottkamp’s farm and on the acre behind the farm stand.
As it comes in season, Breitenbach Farms will sell their own produce, including asparagus, sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins and more, in addition to selling produce from other local farms and purveyors. Visitors can expect honey, jams and baked goods, including donuts. There will also be fresh flowers courtesy of Wells Homestead owner, Susie Wells, who will be growing flowers at her greenhouses to sell at Breitenbach Farms.
“It is great to see it passed on to the next generation,” Wells said. “I am happy to be working with them. They are good kids and it is always important to have young blood to bring in new ideas.”
After 20 years, Wells closed the farm stand in 2017 as she focuses on her greenhouses, selling wholesale and to longtime customers like the Breitenbachs.
“Last summer was the first year it was closed and it was sad to drive by it when it was empty,” she said. Wells Farm on Sound Avenue is still open and now operated by Ms. Wells’ children, whose father, Lyle Wells, died in 2018.
“I enjoyed retail, but I enjoy growing more,” she said. “You have to do what you love.”