If you’ve driven out to Orient Point at any time in the past two decades, you’ve probably seen, but never noticed, the red and white shed just past North Fork Flower Farm on the right. That’s because the structure has been abandoned for 21 years and become a part of the landscape, until last year when Stuart and Mimi Edelman took it over as their stand for I&Me Farm.
Just across the street in a two-acre plot behind North Fork Flower Farm is their farm. Raised beds are filled with thick, purple leaves, freshly watered, sparkling green vines and the peaking red tops of tiny radishes.
“In the front of the house are all the legumes,” said Mimi, describing what each box is growing. “We just put in some more beans today. These are all our French fingerlings. And then I have salad blends in the center.”
“So the product travels across the street,” Stuart added. “I was gonna put signs up like a vegetable crossing.”
The husband-and-wife team moved out to the North Fork four years ago from Bedford, NY. There, Mimi ran a farm by the same name for 18 years growing produce for chefs in the Hudson Valley and the city. The two met at Southampton College and always wanted to eventually make their way back to the East End. So when they did, they brought the farm with them, and Stuart joined Mimi after working in the garment business (“This is a lot better for my soul,” he said.).
“We came out here to start farming again, and then the restaurants closed,” Stuart said. “And we had to reinvent ourselves.” Before 2020, I&Me Farm was selling only to chefs, not consumers. Without that avenue, they pivoted to a CSA model. Last year was their first year offering it to the North Fork community. “We had 20 people sign up for 10 weeks, and it was a huge success,” he continued. “Now we have I think between 30 and 40 people for two sessions.”
Since their first year having the farmstand, which acted as a pickup point for the CSA, they’ve expanded. On top of selling their own produce and CSA shares, they also will have Peeko Oysters, Feisty Acres eggs and poultry and mushrooms from mushrooms.nyc. As they open up, they said they plan to donate food to CAST and hope to launch a scholarship program for high school students who want to pursue music.
“After growing for chefs for 20 years and moving back into a CSA consumer market, I really didn’t know if it would be inspiring and motivating,” Mimi said. “But we’re finding it very rewarding to nourish our community.”
Mimi thought that because she wasn’t growing for chefs, who often look for unique and fun varieties of produce, she would have to grow more traditional and well-known types of produce, taking some of the fun and passion out of farming for her. But that wasn’t the case.
“I didn’t change my niche one bit,” she said, who was a sous chef herself in the 1980s. “And our customers, our community love it. They can come to us and for example, can get a blend of baby spinach that’s green, red or entirely different arrowhead shape.”
“These are all French and Italian frisee,” she continued, pointing out different raised beds. “Our kale mix has Ethiopian kale, our Asian mix has chrysanthemum. We do global and heritage foods here, and we haven’t changed anything. That niche has actually lifted us up.”
The couple works together seamlessly. Mimi is in charge of all the farming, while Stuart revitalized the farmstand, cleaning it out and adding chalkboard doors for the signs, and waters the beds.
“I tell people I’m the waterboy; she’s the brains,” he said. “I really am just a waterboy.”
“I’m not even the brains,” Mimi added, laughing. “I’m the stubborn braun.”
The I&Me Farm stand will open Friday, June 18 and will be open Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 35800 Main Road in Orient Point.