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Despite Losing Restaurant Business, Small Vegetable Farms On Long Island Are Thriving

SOUTHOLD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- They thought they'd feel the pinch of losing the restaurant market, but instead lettuce and veggie gardens -- especially organic -- are flourishing.

Munching sweet fresh snow pea shoots, will Long Island's small North Fork farms survive the pandemic?

"The cars kept pulling in our little driveway," said Lucy Senesac, manager of Sang Lee, an 80-acre organic farm.

It was unexpected. Not only is Sang Lee surviving, like many others, it is thriving.


"We got really hit. Everybody was out on the North Fork now -- second homes, locals -- everyone started getting a little worried about their food supply," Senesac said.

She explains the farm is known for its salad and micro-greens, organic vegetables, hard to find herbs, and edible flowers. Sang Lee is a CSA -- Community Supported Agriculture -- program, which allows consumers to buy shares of the farm's produce before it is harvested.

"Tomatoes, cucumbers, beets," one customer said.

"We just all love fresh fruits and vegetables," said another.

The farm became inundated and couldn't keep up.

"We ended up closing down and shifting to preorders for pickup," Senesac said.

They received 120 preorders a day. It got so overwhelming that the farm decided to slowly reopen and control customer count, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported. So they're setting up for a socially distanced, in-person, return. They're now investing in signs, fencing and safety cones.

"Open again with new protocols, masks, gloves," Senesac said.

"People are buying seed and growing their own," said one person:

"Inspire people to go home and start their own vegetable gardens," said another.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

And that is possible: The seed, the tiny veggies, and lots of advice. Other small nearby businesses are reaping the benefits of the green farm.

"Like the Europeans. You know your farmer, you know your butcher, you know your baker, you know your cheese producer," said Michael Affatato of the Village Cheese Shop.

"I'm still very sad for everything that's happening, but the silver lining is the awareness of people's food and how it grows and where it's from," Senesac said.

Uncomfortable success, renewed interest in farm-to-table, brought on by a new way of life.

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