We all know that June is Strawberry season on the North Fork, the really great sweet corn should be ready by Fourth of July weekend and heirloom tomatoes are everywhere just weeks later.
But every now and then we find ourselves at a local farm stand staring at an unusual piece of produce thinking, “Was this actually grown here?”
“You can grow a lot,” said Larry Kaiser, owner of 1760 Homestead Farm in Riverhead. “The growing conditions out here are pretty excep- tional for the different varieties due to the quality of the soil.”
In fact, the North Fork allows for an extremely diverse range of produce, from fabulous fruits to interesting vegetables.
We spoke with local farms about one of their unique crops you can’t just find anywhere.
MINTS: John Zilnicki said they grow 15 different mints, including chocolate mint, and sell some of them to area restaurants, including Modern Snack Bar in Aquebogue.
DRY BEANS: Lucy Senesac says dry beans like Calypso and Tiger Eye beans are simple to grow out here because you don’t need a trellis.
EXTRAORDINARY PEPPERS: “We grow a lot of weird stuff,” Kaiser said. Currently he’s growing a bunch of extremely hot peppers, including Carolina Reaper, Trinidad Scorpion and Peri-Peri Pepper, some of which is being used at the new Meat’s Meat BBQ in Mattituck.
BARLEY: Co-founder Peter Treiber grew barley last year for the express purpose of malting and brewing his own beer, which is being released in the coming months.
LEMONGRASS: This year, 8 Hands will be growing lemongrass. “We’re doing a lot of Asian-inspired [items],” said owner Carol Festa, who added that some of their other crops this year include broccoli rabe and tongue of fire beans, seeds her father brought over from Italy many years ago.