To our Friends and Supporters,
What a year! WHAT A DECADE! As we wrap up our TENTH season, we are taking time to reflect on how far Amber Waves Farm has come since our first spring in 2009. Only a year before starting the farm we met as apprentices at nearby Quail Hill Farm. There, under the mentorship of Scott Chaskey, we sowed the dream of going out into the world (which ended up being just around the corner) to build something bigger than ourselves and something beautiful that would outlive us. We dreamed of a mission-driven non profit community organic farm of our own, a space filled with productivity and diversity. More than a farm planted with delicious heritage varieties of fruits, vegetables, and grains; we envisioned a haven where aspiring farmers could come to work and study, and eaters of all ages could come to learn and taste. We were naive but driven; unprepared but passionate.
Our first audacious season at Amber Waves Farm we grew vegetables and wheat (and so many weeds) on a single acre for our 18 original CSA members. We invited schools and the public to visit our fledgling farm. We put our heads down to do the hard work, and held our heads high through the frustration of novice farming mistakes. We drained our personal savings, barely paid ourselves, and tried to keep our dream alive on a shoestring budget. Our self-chosen theme of that first season was: survive. We did. We finished the season tired and humbled but more motivated than ever to go forward.
The theme of our first season may have been survive, but the theme of our first decade was grow. Grow plants, grow farmers, grow the CSA, grow our community, grow the budget, grow our reach. Over the last ten seasons we have worked at honing our skills as organic growers while also honoring our mission to keep the gates open to the public and to deepen our educational programming. We’ve taught thousands of children about food and farming, mentored 29 new farmers through our Apprenticeship Program, and grown over one million pounds of food for our community including more than 100,000 pounds of produce given to local food pantries. Our staff has grown from just the two of us to a team of more than 30 at the height of the season in 2018, and our production has grown from one to 25 acres.
While we were busy building the farm, some extraordinary opportunities came our way: the chance to buy our farmland in 2016 and re-open the iconic Amagansett Farmers Market in 2017. Thanks to the seller, the Peconic Land Trust, and local conservationist families acting as donors and advisors, we were able to take advantage of these opportunities, gaining security and guaranteeing the long-term sustainability of the farm. We have always relied on generous and thoughtful community support to help underwrite our programming and now, in addition to donations, all revenue generated at our market is funneled back into our educational programs. We still rely on our community of supporters for about 20% of our overall budget, but as we continue to develop a sustainable business model at the market we have the potential to generate most, if not all, of the funding needed for our educational programmatic work. We’re not quite there, but we are making headway and aim to be financially self-sufficient in the next five years.
Equivalent to witnessing a child mature into their own person, we have watched in amazement as the farm has evolved into a unique being, complete with her own personality, identity, and spirit. A partnership that began as Amanda and Katie now truly feels like a collaboration between Amanda, Katie, and Amber herself. The reflective act of writing you this letter to tell our story and ask for your continued support has been restorative after ten years of hard work, but we won’t linger here for long. We have our sights set on the next decade and beyond, and we’re ready to buckle down and get back to work. Our programmatic goals are to both deepen our existing programming - new farmer training through our Apprenticeship Program and hands-on children's programs - while also broadening activities for your family and our community to participate in the farm’s daily operations. Our vision for the property for the next decade includes significant investments in farm facilities and infrastructure to improve the on-farm visitor experience and to realize our potential not only as a strong community institution on the East End, but also to become one of the premier educational farm operations in the country.
We’re overcome with gratitude for all those who have worked with us to build Amber Waves Farm over the last decade: every employee, apprentice, CSA member, donor, neighbor, customer, board member, and visitor. As you reflect on your relationship with the farm and your fond memories of your experiences here, please consider making a gift that will help us launch into the next decade with the theme of thrive. It does indeed take a village.
With gratitude and great hopes for another decade of service to our community,
Amanda & Katie
P.S. We are a 501(c)(3) non profit community educational farm and all contributions are tax-deductible. If you are making a gift, please also ask your employer to consider matching your donation!