When Justin Bakewicz first launched his farm stand on Route 25A in Wading River five years ago he didn’t think he’d last too long at the location.
The property was owned by a home builder and he figured the portion of the property where he opened the modest stand selling flowers would soon be someone else’s front yard. He’d build a name for himself in Wading River, he thought, before permanently setting up shop somewhere else.
But the story of Bakewicz Farms has taken a few turns ever since and its 27-year-old owner couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome. After a proposal by a solar company looking to open an energy storage facility on the 11-acre farm was shot down by Brookhaven Town, he purchased the entire property in December. The June sale of the development rights to the town make it certain the land will remain agricultural forever.
“We fell in love with the farm,” Bakewicz said. “It was never really our intent to stay here, but I always kind of secretly wanted to.”
With their future at the farm now secure, Bakewicz and fiancée Anna Montauredes have begun to unveil a bold new vision for the business, which they run along with his mother, Marianne.
Over the past several years, the farm has been all about the fall season, when its popular corn maze attracts visitors from across Long Island. This year, the goal is to make the land, which is about a mile east of William Floyd Parkway, a multi-season destination.
For starters, Bakewicz has continued to expand on the homemade agritainment features that started with just a small playground. The fenced in area now includes a few holes of miniature golf and a tricycle racing track.
The most ambitious new addition is The Silo, a bar cut out of an old-fashion farm silo where they serve local craft beverages, including beer from Long Ireland and North Fork Brewing Co. and hard cider from Woodside Orchards.
“The kids are playing on the playground and the parents are having a drink like, ‘This is great,’” Bakewicz said.
In addition to doing the books for the business, Marianne Bakewicz also prepares baked goods in a new kitchen on the property that she serves out of a snack shack located just behind the newly constructed farm stand, which sells more local produce and retail items this year than in the past. Much of the produce is grown on a 17-acre farm Bakewicz leases in Manorville.
This week the farm launched a summer camp Montauredes is running with kids learning how to tend to the animals on the farm, which include cows, chickens and pigs.
For the couple, farming isn’t the only way of life they’ve known. Bakewicz grew up in Rocky Point and launched a landscaping company out of high school. He also briefly worked for De Lea Sod Farms.
But farming is in his blood. His uncle owns the popular Hank’s Pumpkintown in Southampton, which had been his grandparents’ farm before that. As a teen, he spent summers working there.
Montauredes, a Ronkonkoma native, grew up riding horses and a love of farm animals is what brought the couple together.
They met on a Facebook group after she commented that an area retailer didn’t have any food for her to feed a cow she rescued and Bakewicz confessed he’d bought it all up for the cows he saved.
“That’s how we fell in love and we continue to rescue animals together,” he said.
The cows now cohabitate on the Wading River farm and Bakewicz and Montauredes live just a few miles away on the eastern edge of the hamlet.
“I didn’t grow up farming, but I grew to love it,” the 24-year-old Montauredes said. “I taught him how to ride [horses] and he taught me how to farm.”
Next summer the couple plans to write the next chapter of their love story when they say ‘I do’ on the property that once could have been the site of three new homes or an energy storage facility.
Now they’ll get to tie the knot on a farm that shares his name, and should continue to for a long time to come.
Bakewicz Farms is located at 291 Route 25A in Wading River. The farm stand is open seven days a week. The Silo is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.