The East End Food Institute (EEFI), a non-profit organization that builds partnerships among farmers, food producers, and food consumers from Long Island to N.Y.C. and beyond, held an event on Thursday, September 15, announcing an exciting new project that will help revolutionize how residents of the region obtain food, all while supporting local food producers. The event was hosted for 150 attendees at the renowned Nick and Toni’s restaurant in East Hampton, N.Y.
“We are very excited to announce the development of the East End Food Hub, and hope to spread awareness of the importance of supporting local farmers, food producers and an equitable local food system here on Long Island,” said Kate Fullam, Executive Director of East End Food Institute. “This project will help to diversify revenue streams for farmers while ensuring there is healthy, farm-fresh food for all people in need.”
Fullam provided insight into how the organization is currently in the process of developing the East End Food Hub, an estimated $15-20 million project that would help centralize aggregation, processing and distribution of local foods to foster the creation of new markets for Long Island food growers and producers, and their products.
At the event, Pete DePasquale and Becky Garnett of Garnett DePasQuale Projects (GDP) gave attendees a peek at the renderings for phase one development of the Food Hub, renovation of an existing building which is estimated to cost $1.5 million. This first phase of the project includes a refined indoor farmers market and community kitchen that small scale producers can rent to produce their goods.
The full site plan will also include a processing facility for turning higher volumes of farm produce into value-added products, a farm to freezer processing facility, a warehouse and cold storage for aggregation and distribution of locally-grown and made goods, and housing for seasonal workers and conference attendees.
Based in Riverhead, N.Y., Fullam described the proposed Food Hub site as “the gateway to both the South and North Forks of Long Island with easy access to points west, including New York City.” Situated on the iconic property occupied for more than 50 years by the Homeside Florist and its retail greenhouses, the space currently houses EEFI’s year-round indoor farmers market on Friday evenings through October, and then relaunching Thanksgiving weekend on Saturdays from 9:00am to 1:00pm weekly.
“It is essential for everyone to have access to what they see growing here in our community,” said Fullam, “You cannot drive around on the East End of Long Island without seeing a farm of some sort. Access to fresh, local foods is important to our health and wellbeing, and it is a basic human right.”
On September 15, Fullam was joined by Peter Treiber, Sr., a farmer with Treiber Farms, and Mark-Antonio Smith, a food educator with The Nurtury for Kids (both members of the EEFI Board of Directors) to provide insight into the impact the Food Hub will make on the community and visitors to the East End, citing the special programming and the various doors that this campus will open for partner organizations and members.
“This Food Hub project has the potential to contribute a great deal to the East End in critically significant ways,” said Smith, “Dealing with food insecurity, educating residents and students about food issues, and giving people the freedom and choices in what they are cooking and eating are all essential to our communities.”
The cocktail event featured some of EEFI’s producers, such as Balsam Farms in Amagansett, Mecox Bay Dairy in Water Mill, and Treiber Farms in Peconic. Local farms and producers were also featured providing specialty cocktails, wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres— all of which highlighted the region’s bounty.
About East End Food Institute
East End Food Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that builds partnerships among farmers, food producers, and food consumers throughout eastern Long Island. The organization manages a community kitchen based at the Stony Brook University Southampton campus and oversees East End Food Market in Riverhead, a weekly farmers market with over 40 Long Island vendors. East End Food Institute also operates Farm to Community and Farm to School programs, bringing more local food to institutions across the East End. For more information, visit eastendfood.org or call (631) 632-5129.