Working the Land

The first Thursday of fall feels and looks like fall in Wading River. The air has a bite to it, the sky is gray and the rain is light, but steady as Bob Andrews Jr., and his two sons Bobby and Justin wash and package vegetables at Andrews Family Farm.

“Pure dedication, it has to be, to do it seven days a week,” Bob said as he looks around at the darkening sky.

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Scallions, tomatoes, eggplants, collared greens…Bob hands some of the vegetables over to his wife, Denise, and daughter Rosemarie where the two wash them again and put them in the farm stand, which they run seven days a week. Others are packaged and brought to Hunts Point and the Bronx Terminal Market for sale, a huge part of their business.

It makes for a long day, one of just many, with the farm’s selling season lasting 10 months of the year and yet for Bob who comes from a family of farmers and for Denise who married into one, they couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

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“I really do like it, it’s a way of life,” Denise said walking by the chickens from which they get fresh eggs to sell and a couple of goats that Denise said are just for pets.

Denise and Bob took the farm over from Bob’s parents; Bob and Marie who still live and help out at the farm. If their four children, Bobby, Justin, Will and Rosemarie decide to continue farming they’ll be sixth generation farmers.

“We love what we do, it’s very self satisfying from start of finish,” Bob said.

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It would have to be. Andrews Family Farm has been in Wading River since 1983. Bob’s parents had a farm in Plainview and moved out east as land became scarcer.

“It was time to go, and it was a good move, it’s getting busier out here,” Bob said.

On about 60 acres with 27 greenhouses they grow about 80 percent of the food they sell at the market. There’s basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, sunflowers, mums, collards, turnips, kale and mustard greens and of course pumpkins in the fall. Most of the fruit they sell is also grown locally, supplied by neighboring farms.

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“We grow a lot of greens,” Denise said.

With no fences, the conventional farmers grew greens like kale and Swiss chard, vegetables deer don’t like, long before they became the latest health craze. While they do use pesticides they use as little as possible.

“It’s very costly, you do the best you can and a lot of stuff doesn’t get sprayed at all,” Bob said.

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Inside one of the greenhouses, row after row of tomatoes in every imaginable size and color grow. The tomatoes are their son, Justin’s project, one his parents said he is very proud of and one they are clearly proud of him for starting.

“We’re always looking for new ideas,” Bob said. One of their sons is also interested in cattle farming or perhaps getting into diary.

“We’re so fortunate here, we have so much and people really can buy local for much of the year,” Denise said.

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The Andrews Family farm market stays open to about Christmas, selling poinsettias, mums, handmade wreaths and even Christmas trees. Customers come and go many of them stopping in once or twice a week to a place that seems like it has become a second home to many of them with pies baking on the weekends and chitchat with familiar faces.

The rain continues to fall, the kind that will soak through everything, as the Andrews go about their day. Fortunate they are and so is Long Island to have them.

Andrews Family Farm
Open Everyday 9am to 6pm
1038 Sound Avenue
Wading River, NY 11792
(631) 929-5963
andrewsfamilyfarm.com