Pop-up farm stand comes to Greenport

Farmer Michael Chuisano at his Greenport pop-up farm stand. (Credit: Cyndi Zaweski)

There is a new way to stock up on farm-fresh vegetables in Greenport. On Thursdays and Fridays, The Naked Farm is selling its vegetables and flavorful microgreens outside Emilio’s pizzeria on Main Street.

Farmer Michael Chuisano is growing a variety of produce, including lettuce, beets, radishes and arugula, at his small East Marion farm using a bio-intensive, no-till agricultural method. The French technique allows Chuisano to cultivate maximum yields from a minimum area of land, befitting of the less than two-acre plot, by planting crops close together in long, narrow garden beds. As the moniker suggests, the produce is “naked,” meaning free from pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

“It is the best way to grow,” Chuisano said. “It is good for the soil, the planet and it tastes better than anything.”

The 62-year-old Chuisano, the retired former owner of LaFayette Mirror and Glass Company in Brooklyn, got his start in agriculture in a somewhat unlikely manner. In 2014, he started growing tobacco in Orient, something that hasn’t been done in town since the American Revolution.

He learned that the highly sought-after commodity was being grown right across Long Island Sound in the Connecticut River Valley. The crop grows so well in Connecticut that a September 2013 article in Cigar Aficionado called the region’s broadleaf “dark and rugged, earthy and sweet,” noting its use by premium cigar makers from all over the world.

The small farm abuts Lavender by the Bay in East Marion. (Credit: Cyndi Zaweski)

He grew the tobacco crop for one season before selling the entire harvest to the international cigar company, AJ Fernandez. In that year, he became hooked on farming and continued to work with another longtime local farmer, growing traditional produce for several years, before striking out on his own to open The Naked Farm in March.

“Once I got into farming, I knew it would be something I’d do forever,” said Chuisano who has lived on the North Fork since the 1990s. “I have watched Greenport transform in such a little amount of time. The calls for organic and pesticide-free were getting louder and louder, so I thought I’d give it a shot.”

The Naked Farm’s harvest has been well received by local chefs, who serve it on their menus at American Beech, Green Hill Kitchen, Kate’s Cheese Shop, Frisky Oyster and Fork & Anchor, among others.

Two types of lettuce, beets, radishes, carrots, spinach, cilantro and arugula are at the farm stand now in addition to several varieties of microgeens. He hopes to continue the pop up through December and plans to grow tomatoes and other vegetables in a greenhouse during the winter for a late spring harvest.

“I will definitely be expanding next year,” he said.

The Naked Farm pop-up is located outside of Emilo’s, at 400 Main Road, on Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon.