For generations people have come to the East End from the city in search of the wide-open vistas, sea breezes and authentic farm views that have long defined the area. As time has marched onward, increasingly these vistas have been narrowed as more and more development has encroached upon the very scenery that brought these folks here in the first place. Soon, these residents find themselves living next door to the same people they ride the subway with all week.
Which is why we find it supremely ironic that people who have moved to the East End to live out their country fantasies are freaking out at the notion of an actual working farm moving to their neighborhood, marring their views and potentially interrupting their sleep.
Yes, let’s be frank. Farm life can be intrusive. Living on a potato field may seem like a quaint notion when it’s offered up in a photo from a glossy real estate brochure, but when the Colorado potato beetles invade and the pesticides come a sweepin’ down the lane…and in through the French doors during a dinner party, well, that’s another matter. There are also tractors that plow, trucks that haul, chickens that cluck and cows that doo what cows doo so well.
We were surprised last week by some residents who showed up at a Southampton Town Planning Board hearing to complain about the potential impact of an organic farm being proposed for ag preserve land in Bridgehampton. The developers of the site are proposing an operation that would operate completely off the grid and rely on solar and wind power for meeting its energy needs in the production of flowers, grasses and apples for market.
Yet neighbors of the property cited issues including fears of well contamination (uh….this is going to be an organic farm folks, we’re not sure how that would work), excessive noise and potentially unsightly fencing in their arguments against the idea. Hello… that’s kind of what the “working” part means in the phrase working farm. By the way, working farms have been a basis of the local economy for centuries. Remember, that’s what drew all these people to the area in the first place.
At the public hearing, one resident opined that the farm is a beautiful plan, but said it’s in the wrong place. So tell us, if a farm doesn’t belong in an area with fertile soil that has historically been farmed for generations, exactly where does it belong? Because quite frankly, we’re out of ideas on this one.