In 2015 the Sisters of St. Joseph affirmed a Land Ethic Statement to guide our future decisions about our Brentwood property. It is based in our charism and our awareness of the responsibility we all have for the health of Earth and in particular for the Long Island Bioregion. For the past two years we have been working with the Peconic Land Trust to preserve the land and to return it to agriculture. We have leased parcels of land to six farmers, and the fields that once were a working farm are slowly being restored to agriculture. The vegetables grown here are totally organic and are available at farm stands for purchase by the local community this year.
Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc., (FREE) a non-profit agency that has served the differently-abled citizens of Long Island for over thirty years are farming a three acre parcel on our Brentwood property. The people whom FREE supports are the farm’s staff and are responsible for its daily care under the direction of a certified Master Gardner, Jean Reinhart. They prepare the organic soil; seed and transplant the produce; and irrigate and maintain the vegetable beds throughout the growing season. They also package and deliver the shares for the members, and sell the excess produce at the farm stand. Jean Reinhart and the participants from FREE operate a farm stand every Wednesday and Thursday (10:00 AM – 2:00 PM). The farm stand is located on the road near the 2nd Avenue entrance to our campus (behind Building # 4). The proceeds from the sales are used to support the work of the program participants. The FREE staff and participants are growing all types of organic produce including tomatoes, several types of lettuce, peppers, eggplant, summer squash, onions, tomatoes, garlic, kale, shallots, Swiss chard and herbs. Fall crops will include broccoli, peas, cabbage, carrots, beets, corn, and watermelon.
THERA FARM is owned by the Bolkas family (father Athan, mother Soula, son Teddy and daughter Maria). The family farm occupies about 2 acres in a decidedly nonagricultural neighborhood in Lake Hills Ronkonoma. Teddy Bolkas is now leasing 10 acres of land near the main entrance of our Brentwood campus for agricultural production. Farmer Teddy will operate his farm stand every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. The farm stand is located near the main entrance to the property on Brentwood Road (near Commack Road).
View some videos and news stories:
Meet Our Other Organic Farmers
LINPI (Long Island Native Plant Initiative: Rusty Schmidt, Board President
The LINPI staff members are growing plants that are native to Long Island and producing seeds for additional plants. Once native plants have been propagated in containers, they are transplanted to the founder plot on our property that will be used to produce modest quantities of seed for subsequent commercial scale production.
The Mosaic School Farm: Laurie Murdock, School Farm Coordinator
The educational staff and student participants from The Mosaic School for autistic young adults planted more than 100 blueberry bushes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a variety of squash. Most of the produce was donated to Island Harvest, the largest hunger relief organization on Long Island. The purpose of their farm is to provide educational opportunities for the students.
Napolitano Family Farm: Gina and Daniel Napolitano, Farmers
Gina and Daniel are new farmers. Daniel has been working on preparing the soil and planted oat seeds on their one-acre plot.
Organics Today: Michael Massino, Farmer
Michael is the owner of Organics Today farm in East Islip. He has prepared the soil behind the old ASJ tennis courts to grow pumpkins and squash this season.
Please contact S. Karen Burke (Coordinator of Land Initiatives) at KBurke105@msn.com or 917-353-5135 if you have any questions about our farmers and the farm stands.
View a seven-minute video on the 2016 progress as we initiated this project: