New Amagansett Farmer Traded Suits For Seeds


Shutting off his tractor on Wednesday, Frank Trentacoste hopped to the ground in his holey jeans, T-shirt, sneakers and baseball cap. His attire, dirty from a hard day’s work on Bhumi Farm in Amagansett, was radically different from the suits he used to don as an equity strategist in Manhattan not long ago. Mr. Trentacoste, 41, gave up the “sweet life” to live a more rustic one as an organic farmer. He planted his first seed—a fava bean—in April.

“You have to walk the field to see what’s going on,” he said, passing through his rows of squash. “You have to plan it properly. It’s like a relay race—spring hands off to the summer—and you want overlap.”

Mr. Trentacoste owns and runs Bhumi Farm on a 4-acre piece of land on Town Lane leased from the Peconic Land Trust. Since April, he has grown a wide variety of organic fruit and vegetables, from watermelon to kale, beets, arugula, carrots and potatoes, to name just a few. For a farmer who has been working his land only five months, Mr. Trentacoste seems to be doing well.

Named for the Hindu goddess of the earth, Bhumi Farm is a community-supported farm, where shares are available for purchase. This summer, the farm sold out of memberships, and Mr. Trentacoste said he was nowhere close to slowing down, either. In addition to keeping up his crop and attending farmers markets, he plans to kick-start “Bhumi Farm Backyards,” a business to establish organic home gardens for those who want to grow their own food and to help them maintain it over the growing season. Bhumi would create the garden in the fall and supply the plant starts in spring.

“I can’t make it any easier for them,” he said. “The goal is community and to try to extend it as much as possible.”

To this end, Mr. Trentacoste harvested and delivered his vegetables last week to his Manhattan members. He said that more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of organic food and he has made it his mission to teach others about the food they eat.

Fed up with “deficiencies” in the American diet and wanting to do something about it, he decided last year to leave behind his financial life and grow vegetables.

“I was looking for something else—I was moving toward something as opposed to moving away from something,” he said. “People expect that I woke up one morning and decided to farm—it’s a process that happened over time. I saw that as a society we weren’t doing enough about our diet and children’s health. I wanted to try to contribute in some way.”

Having spent some time volunteering at Sunset Beach Farm in Amagansett, Mr. Trentacoste said he learned a hundredth of what he needed to learn about farming, but that the experience gave him a sense of what a big endeavor it was going to be.

Last fall, he began researching, planning, shopping for equipment and taking classes online with the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

“Part of planning is knowing that all your planning is not going to amount to enough preparation,” he said. “I assumed a lot of it would happen as it happens. Also, I had a big dose of knowing that failure was going to be a large part of it but also being able to accept it.”

Familiar with and “in love” with the area, he decided to move to Amagansett, find a plot of land and farm it. He shares the Peconic Land Trust acreage with other farms like Balsam, Quail Hill and Amber Waves.

The land trust leases 120 acres in Amagansett as part of the Deborah Light Preserve and the Town Lane Preserve. According to the trust, the idea is to provide acreage for both established and start-up farmers, to conserve and actively use agricultural land, and to ensure that diverse farming operations exist. The trust also offers guidance and infrastructure like barn space, greenhouses, retail space and shared equipment.

Mr. Trentacoste said he works from sun up to sun down and is constantly on the move, weeding, harvesting, seeding and catering to his vegetables’ needs.

“Being on the farm where plants are growing around you, you take energy from that—there’s a big energy exchange on the farm,” he said. “I feel invigorated, but at the end of the season when the plants sort of pull into themselves, it’s a little bit draining, but I’m learning to moderate that.”

Hoping to share his experience and knowledge, Mr. Trentacoste would like to build a barn on his property, wherever that may be in the future, where he can meet people in the community, and give classes and lectures. For now, he continues seeding, harvesting, and letting nature lead the way.

“Mother Nature does the bulk of the work,” he said. “I’m doing very little for these veggies, but my heart is into doing things the best as I can.”

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