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Babylon Notebook: Vegetables as Fresh and Local as They Get

In its second year Copiague-based Grower’s Market is ‘growing strong’ and organic, every Saturday morning, attracting residents from around Babylon Town.

If you’ve driven past the parking lot at the corner of Great Neck Road and Oak Street on any recent Saturday and didn’t stop to check out the Grower’s Market, you missed what’s without doubt the freshest, most local produce to be found in the Town of .

In its second year the market – brainchild of the Babylon Town in conjunction with the Copiague Chamber of Commerce – is going strong, with local growers offering up everything from tomatoes and cucumbers to a host of other organically grown products like kale, carrots, garlic and peas – not to mention exotics like white eggplant and New Zealand spinach.

According to Sal Puglia – who moved the Saturday market forward as the first vice president of the local Chamber – it’s probably the only place around to get truly local fruits and vegetables.

“Other markets on the island typically bring people in from the East End,” Puglia said. “This is definitely all local – people who grow on plots at home, or on a plot in the Deer Park Organic Garden.”

That includes Carol and Richard Corwin, who were recently selling tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and even some fresh breads from their stand.

“We‘re here every single Saturday,” Richard Corwin said. “Carol’s the master gardener. Now it’s tomatoes and cucumbers, but come back later in the season and we’ll have butternut squash, Swiss chard and snap peas.”

Iris Rusken and her children Ilyssa and Sam, who were picking up a few items from the Corwins, said she loves their breads. However, Iris also sees the market as a way to share ideas with the local growers.

“I grow vegetables myself, organically,” she said. “Right now I’m having a problem with raccoons getting into my garden, so I thought maybe someone here would have some ideas.”

Helene and Don Allen have a plot in their home garden down by the water in Amity Harbor, where they say the combination of acidic rain and alkaline sea breezes maintains a perfect pH in their soil.

“We’ve been doing organic growing for 30 years,” Don Allen said. “Ever since we became aware of the effect of chemicals going into the bay.”

The Allens offer standard products seasonally, but also try something new and exotic each year – this year it’s white eggplants.

“We also tried cantaloupes, but Helene likes them so much we eat them, and don’t have any to sell,” he added.

Then there’s Yvette Urf and her daughter Hannah, from Massapequa, who were selling products by a 4H banner. Her array of produce included kale, mustard spinach and collard greens. Yvette’s a leader of the local club, The Amity Knights, and this the third year for Hannah.

“The market provides kids with an opportunity to do gardening, but also entrepreneurial projects,” she said.

Want to check out the market? It runs through November 20 and, according to organizers, the more the merrier – there‘s plenty to go around.

“Things are going well,” concurred master gardener Vince Cirasole, who not only sells garlic, peas and other items at the market, but teaches organic gardening classes for the town throughout the year. “We just need more customers.”

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