Lavender by the Bay
If you’re up for a day in the country, Long Island’s North Fork has all the usual staples – excellent farm stands and flower markets (try the Glass Greenhouse and Farm Market along Route 25 in Jamesport); organic farms (try Sang Lee Farms on Middle Road in Peconic); places to get homemade pies (try Briermere Farms on Sound Ave. in Riverhead) and farm/orchards where the kids can pet animals and entertain themselves while parents look on from the sidelines, sometimes with a glass of wine in hand (Harbes Orchards on Sound Ave. in Mattituck) But for something you may not have seen before, how about picking some lavender?
Lavender by the Bay is one of the largest working lavender farms in the US, and if you come in late June through mid-July, you’re likely to have an experience you’ll never forget. The main French Bloom makes for an impressive display, and if you love the smell of lavender (who doesn’t) it’s heaven.
During bloom season, there is an $8 per person field entry fee, which can be used as a credit towards any purchase in the farm’s shop. You can take a basket and wander in designated areas, cutting blooms with a sickle (scissors for children). Staff will be happy to instruct you on the drying process (lavender is best dried), or if you don’t care for the bother of cutting, you can find lavender products of every description (lavender honey!) in the gift shop.
The farm is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm (fields close at 4:30) from June to September, and only open on the weekends in October. Lavender is dependent on the weather, so call before planning your visit (631-477-1019). Bloom time is also harvest time, so the later during each bloom you visit the smaller the flowering fields will be.
Also on the unique side: Catapano Dairy Farm, which produces artisanal goat cheeses and delicately fragrant goat milk soaps using goat milk from a large herd that they milk on premises. (33705 North Road, Peconic, NY 11958; 631 765 8042; www.catapanodairyfarm.com)