The Josh Levine Memorial Foundation's annual fundraiser is this Sunday in Sag Harbor
The Josh Levine Memorial Foundation’s annual fundraiser is this Sunday in Sag Harbor

When supporters of the Josh Levine Memorial Foundation celebrate the memory of the Sag Harbor farmer who died in a 2010 tractor accident this Sunday at Dodds & Eder in Sag Harbor, they’ll also be supporting a trio of dedicated farmers who are helping to change the way agriculture is presented in classrooms across the East End.

Each year, Slow Food East End uses money raised by the annual fundraiser to fund stipends for three master farmers who advise school gardens throughout the East End.

This year, Lucy Senesac will be the Master Farmer serving the North Fork. Zackary Johnson will work with school gardens west of Bridgehampton on the South Fork, and Sylvia Channing will work with gardens in Bridgehampton and east on the South Fork.

Ms. Senesac, from Laurel, is a graduate of Skidmore College, who works as farm and market assistant manager at Sang Lee Farms in Peconic, where she developed a young farmers camp last summer.

Mr. Johnson is the Youth Education Coordinator at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm on Shelter Island, where last summer he directed an eight-week summer camp for forty campers. He served as the farm manager at the University of Idaho’s student-run organic farm during college.

Sylvia Channing is  graduate of the Ross School in East Hampton and Oberlin College in Ohio. She has a degree in geology, with an interest in climate and soil sciences. Ms. Channing helped start the Upper School garden when she was at The Ross School and manages their summer camp gardening program. She’s been working as a master farmer for Slow Food East End since last October.

“Master farmers for the different regions act as advisors,” she said. “They delegate to help plan season, implement programs, do curriculum work and help fundraise.”

“The programs are pretty different. Montauk School has new science curriculum and they’re working with Concerned Citizens of Montauk to incorporate garden-based projects. The Ross School has an after-school program, so it’s a little more extracurricular. The Springs School Garden is really doing pretty well. They have a lot of parent and faculty support and a pretty robust program. John Marshall [East Hampton Elementary] has a couple electives. We did some winterizing, planted garlic and had a cooking class.”

Ms. Channing said one of the most beneficial parts of Slow Food East End’s network is a monthly meeting, held each month at a different garden-related location on the East End, where garden organizers share their successes and difficulties.

“It’s a great group,” she said. “It can be a great support system.”

When the Josh Levine Memorial Foundation began, there were just eight school gardens on the East End. This year, the Edible School Garden Program supports 25 gardens at schools throughout the East End, owing primarily to the support of the Master Farmer program.

This Sunday’s cocktail party, from 4 to 7 p.m., will include food and items donated from local farms, fisherman, restaurants, vineyards and merchants throughout the East End. Tickets range from $75 to $125 and are available for purchase online here.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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