Meet the nuns who are growing affordable organic produce in the heart of Brentwood

July 11, 2017
By Cecilia Dowd
FiOS1 News

BRENTWOOD — An organic farm run by the Sisters of St. Joseph Brentwood is cultivating fresh and affordable vegetables to a neighborhood in Long Island where you'd least expect it.

The expansive farmland raises radishes, Sicilian eggplant, zucchinis, and tomatoes on 27 acres of land without the use of chemicals or pesticides.

The agricultural endeavor has become a success, some good news for an area that's made national headlines for gang activity.

It all began in 1896 when the Sisters of St. Joseph first arrived in Brentwood to establish a school.

“When the sisters first came, there was a working farm that supplied food for the sisters and for the girls in the academy,” said Sister Helen Kearney, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph Brentwood.

More than 100 years later, the sisters are not only embracing their roots but are ensuring that future generations do too by working with the Peconic Land Trust to safeguard the land from development outside of agriculture.

“We have found that the soil quality here is very valuable so the yield has been outstanding. We've also found that in our woodlands we have plants and species that have not been found in other parts of Long Island and they've been undisturbed,” Sister Kearney said.

The initiative has since been a win for both residents and local farmers who have a place to grow.

“The soil's great, the water's outstanding, full sun, nice breeze, you can't get any better,” Teddy Bolkas of Thera Farms said.

If you want to buy some produce from the sisters, you can find the Thera Farm Stand on the corner of Brentwood Road and Commack Road which is open Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The farm stand is also run by adults with special needs through an organization called Free; they are open every Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Second Avenue portion of the Sisters of St. Joseph Brentwood property.