Behind the Scenes

Wells Homestead Acres

It’s a Farmer’s Life for Them!

“Farmers eat a lot of their own food,” declared Tom Wickham of Wickham’s Farm in Cutchogue, New York. “We grow what we like to eat, so you know it’s going to be good.”

This sentiment is shared by all of the local Long Island farmers with which FreshDirect partners. The products are grown to spec for all to enjoy.

When asked what the inspiration is for the crops he grows, Lyle Wells (Wells Homestead Acres) responded with, “We give ‘em what they want. That’s why we grow sugar snap peas and asparagus. If we could grow bananas, we would grow bananas.”

Lyle and Tom share a passion for great produce and happy customers, but that’s not the only commonality between them. They have also been farming on Long Island for decades, as have the Rottkamps of Fox Hollow Farm, Billy Polak of Polak Farm and Danny Latham of Latham Farms.

Here is a look at the generations involved in the farmers we work with:

Wells Homestead Acres 11th Generation
Wickham’s Farm 13th Generation
Rottkamp’s Fox Hollow Farm 6th Generation
Polak Farm 3rd Generation
Latham Farms Farming on Orient Point for 200 years

It’s safe to say these guys know what they’re doing! And they love what they are doing! Billy Polak told me, while riding on a tractor, that he “loves being outside and being his own boss!”


Long Island farms

Tom Wickham, a Cornell University graduate, asked me if I “could imagine sitting at a computer all day, every day!?” I guess the joke is on me!

Tom also added that he loves the diversity of work for a farmer: “I have to balance the finances, manage workers, [and handle] food safety regulations, equipment upkeep, horticulture variables and marketing. The life of a farmer is never boring!”

Many of these farms were started when their ancestors came from England or Germany and settled on the island. The farms have been passed down to sons and grandsons and granddaughters.

Lolly Rottkamp is still the President of Fox Hollow Farm, while her son Jeff and grandsons Jeffrey and Jason run production and operations. And Lolly is right where she wants to be—at the Fox Hollow farm stand that has fed some of the same customers for over 30 years. After graduating from nursing school, she came back to the farm where she has been all her life.

And in their families it will stay. Wickham’s son is running his own business in Texas but has plans of coming back to the Northeast to take over the family business in a few years.  Lyle Wells, Chairman Emeritus of the Long Island Farmer’s Bureau, has a son who still helps dad from time to time when he’s not working in Manhattan. And thank goodness for that! What would we do without our local zucchini, delectable squash blossoms and beautiful sunflowers?

So, what brings these farmers back year after year, you might ask? After all, many of these men awake at sunrise and retire at sunset, 7 days a week; they have sun kissed faces and rough, cracked hands, and their days are hectic. But it’s their love of the outdoors, passion for agriculture and delicious food, and enthusiasm to delight the customer that makes all the hard work worthwhile.

What are your favorite local produce? Let us know on the FreshDirect Facebook page or via Twitter (@FreshDirect).

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