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 a 17-acre lavender farm, and has been a draw for lavender fans since 2002 (it’s been rated by Country Living as one of the top six to visit in America, and is New York’s premier farm). Early to mid July is the perfect time to visit, as blooms are usually at their peak. Just getting out of the car, the delightful aroma of 80,000 lavender plants hangs in the air.
During bloom season, there is an $7 per person entry fee for anyone over 12 years of age ($9 on weekends), which can be used as a credit towards any purchase in the farm’s shop. During You Pick times (Monday-Thursday, 9 am – 11:30 am, but call to confirm) you can take a basket and wander in designated areas, cutting blooms with a sickle (scissors for children). Even if you don’t pick, wandering the purple fields makes for some of the best photo ops of the kids imaginable.
The farm is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily, with fields closing at 4:30. 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 unqiue 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)