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May 20, 2019 4:21 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Farmers Look To Expand Businesses Through Partnership With Local Food Trucks

Amy Halsey-Cohn, the owner of The Milk Pail in Water Mill. VALERIE GORDON
May 21, 2019 1:51 PM

Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera has proposed legislation that would allow farmers to invite food trucks to operate on their farm stand properties.

According to a draft copy of her legislation, farmers based in Southampton would be allowed to host food trucks as long as the food being served by the trucks consisted predominantly of locally grown produce.

The legislation would largely mirror restrictions set forth in 2015, when the Southampton Town Board authorized restaurants to use vending vehicles as an accessory use to encourage growth.

Ms. Scalera said that she was first approached by Amy Halsey-Cohn, the owner of The Milk Pail in Water Mill. “They wanted the ability to help boost and enhance their productivity and sales,” she said.

On Monday, Ms. Halsey-Cohn explained that she is interested in offering the opportunity to three pre-existing food trucks: Aji of East Quogue, which serves authentic Mexican cuisine; Nice Buns, a gourmet sliders truck based in Southold; and the food truck operated by Plaza Cafe, a Southampton Village restaurant.

She said the legislation would help to support local restaurants, agriculture-based businesses and agriculture in general.

Ms. Halsey is a 12th-generation farmer. The Milk Pail is celebrating its 50th year in business this year. “This would be our way of keeping our store alive,” she said.

After considering the idea, along with members of the Southampton Town Agriculture Advisory Committee, Ms. Scalera began hashing out the details.

The committee’s chairwoman, Julie Wesnofske, added last week that she recently discussed the proposal with Southampton Assistant Town Attorney Kathleen Murray. “The whole agricultural community is definitely in favor of anything we can do to make and keep ourselves viable businesses,” she said.

In order to be eligible, farmers would apply for a permit from Southampton Town Chief Fire Marshal Cheryl Kraft, and include a written statement listing the crops that would be for sale, as well as all supporting products. The permit would be valid for a maximum period of nine months per year.

Supporting farm products include baked goods, eggs, cheese, milk, preserves, syrup, salad dressing, honey, juice, bottled water, and crops, according to the draft legislation.

Farmers also must have a pre-existing farm stand, which, Ms. Scalera said during a work session last week, limits those eligible to roughly four or five farm stands in the area.

“Generally, farm stands don’t have prepared foods or ready-to-go items—they have produce,” Ms. Scalera said. “They just want to have another added benefit that might draw in a customer.”

Additionally, the main farmland is required to be no less than 10 acres, or must comprise several smaller parcels that equal 10 acres, provided that they are based in Southampton and are operated by a single farm owner or applicant. The temporary farm stand also must be no larger than 240 square feet.

Food truck operators would be permitted to sell or use products offered by other farmers throughout Southampton Town, whose properties do not conform to the minimum requirements. “It opens it up to farms that wouldn’t be allowed to have the food truck,” Ms. Scalera said.

The Southampton Town Board will discuss the proposal at a public hearing at 1 p.m. on June 11 at Southampton Town Hall.

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