“It is with a heavy heart and deep regret to inform you all that this year, 2014, Pantigo Farm Co. will no longer be operating.”
Thus began a Facebook post by Sam Lester, who has been operating a small farm and farm stand on a two-acre parcel at the junction of Pantigo and Skimhampton Roads. Known for fresh produce and preserves such as blackberry and beach plum jams, the farm stand will be no more.
“A staple of East Hampton since 1877 will soon be gone for good,” he wrote, referring to the fact that the property, which belonged to Mr. Lester’s father and on which a house was built by a Lester antecedent in 1877, was just sold. Mr. Lester has no idea what it will be used for, but he assumes that the idyllic location won’t be used for farming. The historic spot, part of what was once known as Lesterville and which still has Lester-owned properties neighboring it, was historically the midpoint in the Montauk-to-Bridgehampton cattle drive, he said.
Mr. Lester, who spent summers from the age of 5 till he went away to college manning a family farm stand, tried for the past two years working with the town and Peconic Land Trust to carve out a way to continue to farm there and earn enough revenue to purchase it from his father. It was not to be. He said last week that he was “bitter” that people who profess to believe in local farming did not help his cause.
In his post he thanked his customers for their support, adding that, “When you put your heart and soul into every jar that comes out of the kitchen and everything that’s coming out of the fields . . . your positive feedback has meant the world to me.”
He has been working to get his jellies and jams into local stores and has some interest, but no commitments yet.
This week, after preparing to take a break from farming, he was looking at a new spot to farm. Having reached out to several older farmers around town, “we put our heads together” and someone came up with a small parcel of land that he may be able to farm this summer, with road frontage where he could sell his produce and canned fruits. “After going through what I’ve been through,” he said. “This is a great note to start a new season with, and I couldn’t be happier.”