The East Hampton, N.Y. property installed a four-acre pond for irrigation before adding an all-organic farm that serves a dual purpose—fresh produce for Executive Chef Ian Scollay and an interactive component for the Junior Activities program. Also, Farmington CC in Charlottesville, Va. places weather-resistant, easy-to-read vinyl stickers on each mower to improve operational efficiency.
(As featured in C+RB’s 14th Annual Ideas Issue, June 2020.)
The benefits of an irrigation pond at the Maidstone Club, a 27-hole property in East Hampton, N.Y., have reached well beyond the golf courses. After the pond was installed in a four-acre span of trees in the middle of the property’s nine-hole golf course six years ago, Kenneth Koch, CCM, Maidstone’s General Manager/Chief Operating Officer, recognized that the plot of land had even more potential.
The spot was the perfect place for a garden, so Koch put Head of Maintenance Jim Abran to work. Abran built an all-organic garden, which produces dozens of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers per year on the site that now covers 2.5 acres. The garden, called Maidstone Farm, also includes an apiary with 11 beehives and its newest addition, a chicken coop that is home to 30 chickens.
“I am the lucky benefactor of all of Ken’s and Jim’s hard work,” says Executive Chef Ian Scollay. “I pick what’s good and ripe, and bring it back to the kitchen.”
While Scollay relies on the farm to provide a supplemental source of fresh ingredients, he isn’t the only one to reap the rewards of the garden. Five years ago, it became part of the Maidstone Club’s Junior Activities program as well.
In fact, Koch says, “The farm was started for the kids. We show them how things are grown. They gain new skills and knowledge they never would have come in contact with.”
The summer camps focus on golf and tennis, but the children, who range from kindergartners to sixth graders, work with Maidstone staff members in the garden one day a week. “Depending on the age group, we’ll assign the tasks,” says Koch.
The campers learn to plant herbs, vegetables, and flowers; harvest honey and eggs; feed and care for the chickens; conduct bee inspections; propagate plants; weed the garden; and cultivate compost. Maidstone’s in-house florists also teach the children how to make floral arrangements with flowers from the garden.
Using honey from the bee colonies, the children make lip balms, soaps, and candles. They also came up with creative designs in a honey-jar label contest. Koch and Abran are beekeepers, and the property, which harvests 700 pounds of honey annually, sells honey products to members as well. Scollay makes honey ice cream, and a homemade honey-herb vinaigrette is bottled and used in a club restaurant as a salad-dressing option.
In addition to Koch, Abran, and Scollay, the campers tend to the garden alongside golf course maintenance crew member and former Vietnamese monk, Long Ngyuen, aka “Brother Long” or “Happy” to the kids.
The farm, which initially had 12 beds for vegetables and herbs, has grown to 30 beds for a full variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs (for the full list, see the online version of this article at www.clubandresortbusiness.com).
“It doesn’t get any better than being able to go out and pick fresh herbs,” says Scollay, who harvests for half an hour every day and has input into what is planted. “At the end of each season, I go through seed catalogs. I’m trying cape gooseberries and orange tomatillos this year.”
Abran built the 10-foot-by-30-foot chicken coop in 2018 and cut cedar trees and built perches for the chickens. Each of the 30 chickens lays one egg a day, and the three varieties of chickens produce brown, salmon-colored and green eggs.
Once a week, the campers make a salad for their lunch with vegetables from the garden. At the end of the summer, a farm-to-table luncheon is held for the older campers. With the help of Scollay, the children harvest all of the ingredients for the meal. “The Harvest Lunch is our gift back to them,” says Koch.
Because of pandemic restrictions, the club hasn’t yet finalized its plans for this year’s summer camps. But Maidstone has already adapted to the times by offering curbside pickup for produce orders from the garden. “I can see the marketplace being continued,” says Scollay. “I think it’s a nice feature for the members.”
The Goal: Expose children at the Maidstone Club
to gardening and farming skills, with hands-on learning opportunities in an experience they might not otherwise
have an opportunity to gain.
The Plan: Build an organic farm and incorporate gardening skills into the Junior Activities program.
The Payoff: The farm has become an integral part of the Junior Activities program, and a supplemental source of fresh ingredients for the club’s Executive Chef to use in the kitchen. This year it is being used to provide fresh produce for members through curbside pickup.
The Golf Course and Grounds Maintenance departments at Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Va. use a wide variety of mowers to keep the club’s 36 greens, tees and fairways in meticulous condition. With a staff of approximately 28 dedicated workers who are tasked with maintaining over 125 acres of turf, the need to get the right equipment to the right location is paramount.
To help identify the task and location for each machine in Farmington’s fleet, weather-resistant, easy-to-read vinyl stickers were placed on each mower. Operators now never end up using the wrong mower for their scheduled job, reports Robert Podleski, Assistant Golf Course Superintendent. In addition to reducing operator error and improving operational efficiency, the labeling system has also helped the club track each piece of equipment for engine and performance maintenance.