July 18, 2022
OLA of Eastern Long Island and Quail Hill Farm have begun their third summer of collaboration to make sure that families in need of food have access to fresh produce. Since 2020, the two organizations have partnered to distribute fresh produce to clients experiencing food insecurity due to unemployment or underemployment caused by the pandemic. In 2021, Quail Hill expanded the partnership to include free or low-cost memberships in the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program for families that OLA recommends for the program. The program is made possible by contributors to the Quail Hill Farm sliding scale CSA.
Currently, seven families that OLA has connected to Quail Hill have CSA membership, which provides them the opportunity two days a week to go to the farm to pick their own vegetables, fruit, and flowers, most of which are edible. Quail Hill now posts signs in Spanish as well as English and provides tours to show community members how to properly harvest the produce. The program will run through the end of October.
“Last year, my husband had COVID, which affected his thyroid,” says Melida Porras, a client whom OLA connected to Quail Hill. “We would always go together to the farm because it was like therapy for him. Having this opportunity to be on the farm helped us a lot. Because of all of you, we had fresh vegetables. This is such a nice program that can help many families.”
In the words of Layton Guenther, director of Quail Hill Farm, “As a community farm, Quail Hill has always aspired to uplift the relationships among people, the land, and the food that sustains our communities. Our partnership with OLA came about in unprecedented times, but it also allowed us to stretch our conception of how to nourish more of our neighbors and foster intimacy with local food, regardless of a person’s ability to pay. We thank our CSA membership for investing in our vision for a more equitable local food system, and we are incredibly honored to work with OLA and support their mission for equity, justice, and inclusion for Latino immigrants on the East End.”
Minerva Perez, executive director of OLA, said, “Our relationship with Quail Hill began when many families were struggling to find food during the pandemic. Our local food pantries saw unprecedented need and were supplying the food they could, but fresh produce was not available at all pantries. We were lucky to have Frances Sacks, a college student who interned with OLA and then joined our staff, start an OLA farm stand in 2020 at Quail Hill and Amber Waves farms. This allowed families in need to come the day after the official farm stand to receive beautiful, healthy produce for free. We are so happy that this nascent partnership grew into our being able to connect Latino families to Quail Hill’s CSA program. All community members, regardless of income, should be able to have access to the freshest, highest quality food the East End has to offer. We thank everyone at Quail Hill for making that possible.”
Quail Hill Farm, established in 1990 and one of the original CSA farms in the U.S., is a stewardship project of the Peconic Land Trust, founded in 1983. Located in Amagansett, Quail Hill Farm is on land donated to the Peconic Land Trust by Deborah Ann Light. Since its founding, Quail Hill Farm has grown to 35 acres serving over 500 families. The community farm also sells to the South Fork’s finest restaurants and participates in the Sag Harbor and Springs farmers markets throughout the season. A central part of Quail Hill’s mission is to educate the community on issues such as soil health, biodiversity, food access and local food systems, and regenerative farming practices.