On the North Fork of Long Island, Sang Lee Farms has been providing fresh vegetables to its community for over 70 years. Since becoming certified organic in 2007, they’ve also committed to educating the community about the connection between organic agriculture and health.
“We’re selling organic vegetables, and this translates to eating healthier, but we asked ourselves ‘do people really get it?’ ” asked farm manager and educator Lucy Senesac.
Sang Lee Farms' manager and educator, Lucy Senesac educating community members.
Current educational outreach programs for the community include plant medicine workshops with local herbalists; farm-to-table cookshops with an in-house culinary nutritionist; and a rotating schedule of wellness speakers, panels and classes. The goal is for programs and events to be centered on what is going on out on the farmland and incorporate home-grown herbs and vegetables into the education.
Along with adult classes and workshops, Sang Lee also offers programs for kids. A Summer Farm Camp was spearheaded by Senesac, who realized the most effective way to relay the message of healthful eating was to start young. “I’d been discouraged working with adults in the past and children are somewhat of a blank slate,” said Senesac.
Summer Farm Camp aims to get children excited about farming, produce and nutrition. The 6-week camp offers a Sprouts program for children ages 5-7, where activities include exploring the farm, learning how to harvest, and tasting fresh vegetables. In the Young Farmers program, for children ages 8-12, days are spent seeding, tending and harvesting their own garden beds, and cooking with and tasting the food they’ve grown.
Summer Farm Camp attendees!
“We try not to put too much pressure on the kids,” said Senesac. “We make it more about fun and getting involved. Even if the kids aren’t eating the vegetables right away, the exposure helps. Some kids even feel motivated to start their own garden. The idea is that when they are older hopefully they come back to this experience as something that shaped how they experience food. We want to show foods comes from the ground not a box.”
Young Farmers learning about seeding, tending and harvesting their own garden beds.
Though there are several farms around the east end of Long Island, many of which operating with environmentally sound practices, Sang Lee is one of the few that has chosen to become certified organic. Organic is at the core of the Sang Lee mission to provide the highest quality vegetables and service to their customers, and the team pride’s itself on their full certification.
“The reason why we care about being certified organic is why we care about educating people about health and nutrition,” said Senesac. “Caring about growing organic makes us aware of how these other things effect health. People that come to us other understand this too.”