‘We work the land and take accountability for it, and seeing the results of all that hard work come to fruition is a wonderful feeling.’
“I got interested in farming several years ago when I was in Vermont on the property of a couple who grew their own food and kept animals like sheep, cows and chickens. I got really into gardening during my time there.
“When I came back to Long Island, I got a job at Youngs Farm in Old Brookville. I now work at the Elija Farm in Huntington, which is associated with the Elija School in Levittown.
“Our mission includes educating neurodiverse people, such as those with autism, about farming, and we have classes for both adults and children. I love watching people learn and seeing their delighted reactions when they complete a task that they didn’t think they could, like operating a walk-behind tractor.
“At Elija Farm, we grow our own vegetables and, although we are not certified organic, we follow OMRI [Organic Materials Review Institute] principles and standards. We want to foster a healthy ecosystem to produce healthier plants and richer soil in which the most nutritious vegetables can grow, and those are also the kinds of foods that are the healthiest for people to eat.
I really love watching the landscape change over the course of the seasons and years.
“We just secured a beautiful greenhouse through a generous donation, and we want to start branching out into growing plants, flowers and vegetables that can be sold to visitors. We also want to open up more farming, baking and art classes to the general public.
“We want to raise awareness about the existence of the farm and bring more people here on a daily basis and encourage people to buy local produce.
“It’s wonderful to be able to shake the hand of the person who grew the food that you eat. Right now, the Elija Farm is home to five chickens, and I am currently raising six chicks to add to the flock. Our chickens have a beautiful henhouse that even includes a swing; eventually, we would like to have ducks and goats, too.
“I really love watching the landscape change over the course of the seasons and years. We work the land and take accountability for it, and seeing the results of all that hard work come to fruition is a wonderful feeling.”
Interviewed by Meagan Meehan