Youngs Farm

When I was a child, my father would take me driving along the Gold Coast of Long Island to gather leaves on many a crisp, fall afternoon. We’d get out of the car at random leaf clusters along the road in Roslyn, Glen Cove, the Brookvilles, and picked the brightest colors in full form. He had one of those self-adhesive scrapbooks. We lined their pages, year after year, with foliage in yellows, oranges, reds, auburns, even the occasional tint of blue.

Once we were finished, he’d make a turn off Northern Boulevard, drive down Hegemans Lane, and pull into Youngs Farm. It was customary to have a treat. A slice of pie or some fudge were my favorites. These memories made up my childhood and stood out because, out of all the places he could have taken me, he took me to this small farm stand.

The Youngs family has been on Long Island since the founding days and the farm itself began long before the Village of Old Brookville was incorporated in 1929. The story begins in 1893 when John Youngs married Ida Hegeman, thus Youngs Farm on Hegemans Lane. It is now five generations running.

Tim Dooley, a manager at Youngs Farm, has been involved for eight years. He runs the business with his wife, Remsen, and mother-in-law, Paula Youngs Weir, owner of the farm. Originally, the farm only sold local milk. Now, it sells around 50 different crops across 10 acres, with five acres being seasonal cover crops.

“I think the common thread between generations is the pride that each person takes in the quality of the products we are selling and also the pride of thriving on this land in this location. Each generation seems very different and no one has been required to be a part of it. However, I think there is an intrinsic reward from making something that brings people some joy and comfort while also making a living,” Dooley said.

Some of the most productive crops are berries, carrots, beets, lettuces, string beans, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, summer and fall squash, flowers, and herbs. Tomatoes are the farm’s best seller, with an increase in lettuce sales every year. Each crop is sustainably farmed, a signature the family signs on the NOFA-NY Farmer’s Pledge each season. In essence, the family promises to farm organic without going through any certification process.

The fields are rotated each season, there’s an on-site compost, and the farm opts for using a spader instead of plow, which reduces tillage depth. Each technique improves soil quality and contributes to environmentally conscious behavior.

The small building stands amid lush greenery, with the iconic Gold Coast mansions in the distance. It has a commercial kitchen and bakery on-site, putting out soups, quiches, pot pies, cookies, breads, muffins, biscuits, scones, pies, and cakes.

Beyond its own goods and produce, Youngs Farm supports other local farms; eggs from Armstrong Dairy in Lattingtown; produce from Orkestai Farm in Upper Brookville, Schmitt’s Farm in Riverhead, Fox Hollow Farm in Calverton, Wells Homestead Acres in Aquebogue, Briermere Farms in Riverhead, Wickham Fruit Farms in Cutchogue, and Densieski Farm in East Quogue.

“We would like to offer customers even more than we grow ourselves. We will also continue to strive to increase the quality and consistency of all the products we hope helps us grow through word of mouth,” Dooley concluded. Beyond edible delights, Youngs offers gifts and housewares.

The future of Youngs Farm looks fruitful, with aims to expand vegetable production into year-round offerings and increase varieties of current produce.

Youngs Farm is located at 91 Hegemans Lane in Old Brookville.

This article originally appeared in The Independent Newspaper.

Sail Away Coffee x NoFoDoCo

Sheltering from the chaos ensuing outside of my front door, coffee and food have become my new favorite antisocial activities. While everyone else is stocking up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I’m making my way for the 30 oz coffee grinds and packets of chocolate. We all have our pandemic priorities. It turns out, I’m not the only one.

In a single week, North Fork Doughnut Company (NoFoDoCo) and Sail Away Coffee delivered roughly 4000 doughnuts to 535 locations across Long Island and the five boroughs of New York City.

“Doing collaborations with other like-minded small businesses has always been a favorite past-time of the NoFoDoCo, and Sail Away happens to be one of our favorites to work with,” said doughnut shop co-owner, Jimmy Lyons.

Now, with small businesses taking a hit during the worldwide coronavirus crisis, working together has proved to be a means for survival. While the two companies have been collaborating since NoFoDoCo opened its doors two years ago in Mattituck, co-owners Lyons, Kelly Briguccia, and head of social media, Rachel Herbst, collectively devised a new delivery system, bringing product directly to their customers’ doors. Nitro-brewed coffee and freshly made doughnuts, a symbiotically sweet pairing, can be home delivered on Friday and Saturday, between 8 AM to 5 PM.

For the North Fork-based shop, it’s a new way of doing business. Even during COVID-19, the shop is continuously selling out from its brick-and-mortar location thanks to window and curbside pickups. But Sail Away has been making the wide-range drop-offs for a while. Using the coffee company’s existing customer base has been allowing NoFoDoCo to reach a new audience.

“We don’t think our doughnuts should be a treat that only a few can enjoy. We love the current exclusivity of our offerings, but we want the world to know about what we are doing out here. We want to represent Long Island and let the city folk know that we aren’t messing around,” Lyons said.

“Not to mention, there are plenty of people out west that could probably use some doughnuts and coffee delivered to their door during these times and we wanted to push ourselves to make that happen for everyone.”

Each morning, NoFoDoCo bakes a fresh batch of doughnuts and Sail Away takes it from there, handling all internal distribution and routing. All customers need to do is order through Sail Away’s online shop and choose from one of two options: six pack of Nitro and half-dozen doughnuts, or a 12-pack Nitro and half dozen doughnuts. The Nitro Cold Brew comes in an assortment of Unsweet, Sweet, Sea Salt and Caramel, and Horchata. Doughnut assortment includes Vanilla OG, Jelly, Salted Caramel, Cookies N Creme, Maple Bacon, White Chocolate Raspberry. Then, Friday morning an email will alert you that the order is out for delivery, which includes a tracking link. (If you run out of things to watch on Netflix, hitting the refresh button on your tracker will turn into a new form of entertainment.)

The deliveries began as a way to abide by CDC social distancing regulations, with the extra perk of ensuring job security to employees, which means rents get paid, and life resumes as normal as possible. Lyons noted that what started off an idea for the short term, depending on demand, could continue long after the pandemic ends.

“We are nothing without our community. We all need each other more than ever. This experience, while scary and trying, has been wildly eye opening. It has been humbling to see our community and our small businesses band together to lift each other up. The support and the efforts have been astonishing. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes it takes situations like this to make us realize how much we all need each other and how important it is to appreciate what you have. Our community has helped us realize this truth and we hope we have given the same back,” Lyons said.

This Father’s Day, get your orders in as a great gift for dad. And make sure to keep up with the company’s flavor forecast on their Instagram.

The original version of this article appeared in The Independent Newspaper.

They’re Dancing In The Streets

Quarantine parties are now in, literally. But DJ CHEF is making celebrating seem a lot less isolated.

When quarantining first began in March, Marc Weiss, “DJ CHEF”, got a call for milestone 40th “birthday rodeo” in East Islip. From there, he joined in on a birthday shoutout parade in Long Beach, a community effort to lift neighbors spirits that began on March 22. Every day at 3:30 PM kids up to 18 years old get balloons, provided by Once Upon A Party, and the full DJ CHEF treatment. Beyond the streets themselves, CHEF goes both Instagram and Facebook Live, allowing an even larger audience to join in. It’s a local effort but comes with a global truth: we all need to feel connected right now.

“I just wanted to take a moment and thank Once Upon A Party LBNY and DJ CHEF for volunteering your time and services to make our birthday shoutouts extra special,” Ali Wash, parade coordinator, said in the private Facebook group, Happy Birthday Shoutouts LB. To date, the group has over 1,100 members.

That’s when the idea hit for private birthday party parades, giving individuals a chance to celebrate on a more personalized level. In just a few short weeks client requests have amounted to half a dozen private parades on a weekly basis across both Nassau and Suffolk Counties. While some requests come through email many have reached out via social media (@DJChefRocks). The DJ CHEF party van parks in the driveway with “go to birthday party” music blasting through the power speakers, lined in LED lights, and a wireless mic hooked up so CHEF himself can rev up the crowd.


“I’m happy I found a way to help out in this awful situation,” CHEF said. In addition to the socially distant acceptable party atmosphere, he provides half a pan of his famous Chocolate Banana Dream cake, complete with a sparkler candle. The rest, such as balloons and decorations, is provided by the clients themselves.

“We just finished a DJ CHEF specialty. It was absolutely delicious and it hit the spot,” Dawn Suriani said on Facebook. “Sharing culinary gifts in a unique way in this unique situation we are all in.”


The community parade is an altruistic endeavor, free of charge, but a private arrival to the driveway comes at a fraction of his usual birthday party fee– which is quoted based upon requests. CHEF expressed, “I’m trying to be sensitive to peoples personal situations. It’s really just about helping everyone out during this challenging time.”

DJ CHEF is also offering half pans of Chocolate Banana Dream for $30, with a half pint of chocolate sauce for an additional $5. Clients looking for an indoor party can have a DJ Dance Birthday through Zoom. Call 516-263-2433 and visit his website.

The Float Place

Floatation therapy, or sensory deprivation tanks, have taken off in popularity since I first wrote about my experience in 2018. The concept began in the 1950s when two Drs, Dr. Jay Shurley and Dr. John Lilly, were at the National Institute of Mental Health. They became curious how the human mind would react to the presence of nothing, and thus REST began (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy).

Given the myriad of benefits, it only makes sense that this form of therapy has grown into a cultural phenomenon; softened skin, lower blood pressure, reduce hyperactivity and heart problems, flushing toxins, forming proteins needed in joints and brain tissue. It aids in stress management, sleep, muscle soreness, and reduces pain and swelling.

Since my initial experience I have undergone treatment six times. What began as a hyperactive mind and cynical viewpoint has quickly transformed to a state of acceptance and sense of self. The Float Place, in the Village of Patchogue, contributed to my positive mindset.


I immersed myself in the tank with a time crunch of only an hour, compared to the typical 90-minute sessions I’ve grown fond of. However, for the first time, this experience I went completely dark– no sound and no [night] light. It sounds starling because it is, but that’s the point. How many of us can so easily shut off, not the outside world but, our own minds? Before I knew it I awakened refreshed as the music played, cueing the end of my session.

Post-shower, I sat in the relaxation room before bolting out the door. A water station, hot Yogi tea, books, even color energy glasses. I put on a violet shades to incite creativity and inspiration as I sipped a detox tea. Two other female entrepreneurs were resting, one was a frequent visitor and the other endured her first trial.

“I don’t think I’ll get used to it,” one said to me. “I have an overactive mind.”

“Neither did I,” I replied. As I informed her of my initial struggle to accept REST, someone came in to inform me, rather comically, that I was so deep in my sleep that it took two rounds of music to wake me up. I turned to the other woman, “I guess I’ve gone from rookie to regular.”

The Float Place isn’t a high-end establishment that feels like a luxury spa, nor is it trying to transform you to an exotic location. With a personality all of its own, it feels like your quirky neighbors living room, inviting you to relax over tea and light conversation.

Before I left I contributed to the Affirmation Tree, a place where visitors write on paper ‘leaves’ their wishes and hopes for others. I’d tell you what I wrote but I encourage you to experience The Float Place for yourself– then try and find my little note.


sitting in front of the affirmation tree


The Float Place has two locations, in Patchogue and Deer Park. Visit them at

Learning From The Ground Up

This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here


Imagine a school where students aid in the harvesting and cooking of the very food that they, and the faculty, eat. A place where within 12 minutes, the entire lunch kitchen and dining room are cleaned. This is the food philosophy of the Hayground School in Bridgehampton.

Jon Snow, co-founder, noted, “A lot of our values are manifested in the commitment to cooking our own meals and growing our own food.” Which makes Hayground a unique place for kids to grow.

Chef Colin Ambrose of Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor has been a part of the Luncheon Series at the school for five years — a series where the entire school is served a meal created by the kids and with a local chef.

“Kids at this school are nurtured by people that are outstanding. And that’s why it’s so easy for me to say yes to participating,” Ambrose said, recalling a time when he created a chicken Bolognese with the students. “Watching them go through the process of talking about it, to actually doing it, eating it — that’s really empowering for me,” he said.

“Food is a necessary component of their day-to-day lives and the Hayground School is feeding them in a unique way,” added Ambrose.

Hayground is an independent alternative school and camp honoring innovation and diversity, where students range from three to 13 years old. It’s a place that Snow helped create. After serving as director of the camp for 24 years, Snow retired from the camp he’s built and loved — but he will continue on at the school half-time as citizen scientist and botanist in residence.

“We’re pretty tricked out compared to our roots,” Snow said. He recalled the very beginning, when Hayground rented space from the Methodist Church in Bridgehampton before there was a campus. Within a year, the school was ready. For the camp, the team spent two summers renting space at Water Mill Community Club. Today, it has grown to a place of soaring possibilities, with a flying trapeze, state-of-the-art wood shop, 56,000-gallon swimming pool, and more.

With 75 to 80 percent of the student body receiving tuition assistance, the camp covers 60 percent of the school’s budget, and many of the parents enrolling their kids in the camp don’t even realize the greater good they are doing for others in need. “The children and the families are just as important as the staff,” said Snow.

“Snow brings a world of knowledge. I bet you that guy reads a book every week. He brings a tremendous variety of skills,” Ambrose added.

The wealth of knowledge and experience in the kitchen is in the capable hands of Arjun Achuthan and Scott O’Neill, who base their cooking on what’s in the garden.

“I have tremendous respect for the values that Scott and Arjun have in that kitchen,” Snow said. “They snatched bacteria out of the air to make their own yeast, and they’ve kept it for five years now. Her name in Juanita,” he said with a smile.

“A lot of it is about being connected in a sensory way to things that you can relate and have a context for. When kids are in the garden, they’re experimenting all the time. They are acting and getting ideas from primary sources. Going out and trying to grow something — and when it dies, that’s an outcome. When it’s so delicious, and everybody at the table questions who grew this lettuce, that’s an outcome. Those are real experiential goals for us at Hayground.”