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Laura Klahre creating snail art at Coffee Pot Cellars. (Credit: Lee Meyer)

There’s always something nature-oriented happening at Coffee Pot Cellars in Cutchogue.

The Merlot for Monarchs program grows a milkweed plant for every bottle of merlot sold. The jams are made from organic fruit on co-owner Laura Klahre’s Blossom Meadow Farm. Nearly everything Coffee Pot Cellars offers has a component designed to teach guests and customers about the natural world around them. 

The latest project by Klahre, Snail Art, has a lot more to teach than first meets the eye.

Klahre was weeding raspberries at Blossom Meadow Farm when she discovered some snails and came up with an idea. She dipped the snails in Turner Artists’ watercolors, set them down on 140LB watercolor paper and watched the snails create abstract, Pollock-esque works of art. When the snails are done creating — Klahre can tell when they stop wandering around the paper — they’re released back on the farm.

Some of Klahre’s completed works of snail art. (Credit: Lee Meyer)

While the idea is artistic and quirky, Klahre’s goal is to teach people about the importance of snails.

“It bothers me that people know more about elephants and giraffes than the creatures around us,” she said. “My hope is that this increases our ecological literacy.”

Klahre’s been learning a lot about snails since the project began and sharing that information with guests. There are 115 types of snails in New York State, she said, and the Rotund Disc snails she’s using for the art aren’t garden pests because they won’t eat fruit, only dead leaves.

“Snails are actually really important in the ecosystem, because they cycle nutrients up the food chain, and in particular calcium,” she explained.

Birds often rely on snails for calcium and female turkeys will eat around 30% more snails before laying eggs. Snails are also a good indicator of ecosystem health, because they are sensitive to pollutants. So if you find snails on your farm or property, you’re doing something right. 

Klahre at work with the snails. (Credit: Lee Meyer)

Going forward, Klahre hopes to locate all 115 snail species in the state and create art with each of them.

Klahre, a marine biologist, previously worked at the Nature Conservancy and values the talks she has with guests. She’s had many conversations since hanging some of the snail art in the Coffee Pot Cellars tasting room, which was her goal. Klahre said that when folks come to sample husband Adam Suprenant’s award-winning wine, she has an opportunity to inform and educate them about nature, which has been a fulfilling experience for her. 

“It’s really cool to pour wine and talk about conservation,” she said. 

Coffee Pot Cellars is located at 31855 Main Road, Cutchogue.