The Halsey family has lived and farmed on the South Fork of Long Island’s Suffolk County since the 1640s. The food they have produced has changed over time—from self-sustaining farmstead to potatoes and dairy to retail orchards—but their commitment to sound farming practices has remained constant.
Today, Jennifer Halsey Dupree is the 12th generation to manage the family’s pumpkin farm and their apple and peach orchards. She grows 26 different varieties of apples and a large selection of squash and pumpkins for their u-pick operation and for the retail market. The Halsey farm sells fruit to nearby schools and other farm stands, but most of its business results from customers at their farm stand, The Milk Pail Country Store in Water Mill.
For Jennifer and her father, John, using conservation practices makes economic and environmental sense. One approach that the Halseys’ use is Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM requires careful monitoring of pests, disease and weather patterns to determine the most effective crop protectant and the proper timing of application. Wanting to ensure that crop protectants reach their intended targets and do not drift, John built an over-the-row sprayer with drift-reducing nozzles, the use of which assured that crop protectants reaching their intended target. As a result, the Halsey farm was able to reduce pesticide application on the farm’s apple orchard by 30 percent.
The Halsey’s also store their crop protectants, fertilizer and equipment in a barn specially structured to keep any spill from leaching into the soil below. “Everyone knows that the water table here is our drinking water. And it’s very close,” explains John. “We feel this facility is a very important part of our farm operation.”
Keeping the land and water healthy is critical to Jennifer as she looks to the future of the farm. The next generation of farmers “is going to have so many opportunities,” she says. “Technology in itself is going to be amazing. And with all these new things, it’ll just make it easier and safer.” She adds, “No one should be afraid to get into agriculture because it’s a wonderful, wonderful way of life.”
STEWARDSHIP IN ACTION
ACRES IN FARMING:
About 70, equivalent to 35 New York City blocks
Apples, peaches, pumpkins
Integrated Pest Management, Crop Rotation, Cover Crops, Reduced Tillage, Soil Health Testing, Controlled Release Nitrogen Fertilizer, and Agricultural Handling Facility
“Everybody has to do their part as far as nitrogen is concerned. We rely on this water source to drink, so anything you put in the soil is going to end up in the water if there is too much of it…We all have to take care of it.” – Jennifer Halsey