Once upon a time, Amagansett, New York, like most of Long Island, was farmland serving the burgeoning port city of New York. It produced, among other things, abundant wheat crops, which were ground by local mills into flour to support the urban population.
Today, the hamlet, which lies near the tip of Long Island, about two and a half hours from Manhattan, is again producing wheat thanks to the efforts of farmers Katie Baldwin and Amanda Merrow.
Baldwin and Merrow run Amber Waves Farm, which they founded in 2009, after the two women met at a farm apprenticeship. Starting with a tiny, experimental crop in their first year, they have built the enterprise into a 25-acre wheat farm, growing a range of heritage varietals. Wheat is only one crop on the farm. Baldwin and Merrow also run a CSA and sell at farmers markets and to wholesale customers.
From many standpoints, Baldwin and Merrow’s operation is typical of the increasing wave of young, ambitious, and often successful farms dedicated to building a sustainable business on sustainable, local farming.
What sets Amber Waves apart, however, is its educational mission, which is built into the very DNA of the business. Baldwin and Merrow launched their farm in response to a request for proposals for cultivating the land by the Peconic Land Trust, which owned the land. Their business plan was chosen because it included an educational program.
That program includes farm tours and workshops for school-aged children, designed to “empower children to establish a lifelong connection with their food,” as Baldwin told a local blogger. For young adults, the farm offers a farm apprentice program that has graduated 21 apprentices, many of whom have gone on to start their own farms or other sustainable agriculture projects.
It’s not surprising that these farmers would be stalwart supporters of farm education, as neither one comes from a farming background and they launched their successful venture after an apprenticeship program of their own at a nearby farm.
“Katie and I are living proof that anyone can become a farmer,” Merrow told the New York Times.
In 2017, Merrow and Baldwin completed a purchase agreement with the Peconic Land Trust for the land that the farmers have been cultivating, as well as for the public farmers market situated nearby. The purchase secures the farm’s future, Baldwin says, and ensures that future generations of local children will grow up with a better sense of where their food comes from.
Organic Valley is committed to building a future for sustainable family farming and is happy to support Amber Waves Farm as it contributes to a vibrant system of agriculture in America.