Huntington shines a light on its farming past with free exhibit
An exhibit examining the history of Huntington’s agriculture and how it still thrives today is on display at Town Hall.
While much of Long Island was once a farm, the exhibit, “Farming in Huntington,” highlights such things as why pickles and cabbage were a wise and profitable product to grow in Huntington. This helps tell the story of Huntington connecting the farmers of old to the roads of today, which are now named after these families.
“Visitors can expect to see real artifacts of Huntington’s agricultural history, artifacts from existing farms, and we are even rushing forward,” said Town of Huntington Clerk Andrew P Raia, whose office is responsible for the exhibition. “We have a cool presentation from a millennial gentleman who grows and sells microgreens.”
The exhibition spans three floors of the Town Hall and features a diorama of a farm, images, artifacts and antique items on loan from local farms. There’s also an activity book that was developed to enhance the exhibit and showcase the farms that still exist, Raia said.
Agriculture was the mainstay of the city, which was settled in 1653. If one was not a farmer, his occupation likely met the needs of local farmers, Raia said. Eventually, other industries such as whaling, new technology and transportation tied Huntington’s people to the West Points, and agriculture took over, Raia said.
âThis exhibit brings you the history of Huntington’s agriculture from start to finish,â he said.
Raia attributes the suggestion of an agricultural exhibition to the city archivist Antonia Mattheou.
Raia and her staff have visited more than 20 farms looking for information and artifacts. The exhibition not only highlights traditional agricultural products such as potatoes, pickles and vegetables, but other agricultural references including apples, turf and vineyards.
Mattheou said the idea came to him after noticing that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people did not go to supermarkets as often, instead preferring to go to farmers’ markets.
âFarmers’ markets aren’t farms, but I thought it would be wonderful if we saw how many farms are left in Huntington,â she said.
City historian Robert Hughes has said that while Huntington is not unique when it comes to farming, it offers a microcosm of the farming experience across Long Island. Agriculture can tell the story of a place and can even mark the beginning of change, he said.
âIt’s a faded part of Huntington’s history,â Hughes said. “A lot of people might not realize that where all these houses are, there were farms.”
Hughes points out that by the turn of the 20th century, farm owners closer to the city center had already begun to realize that the transition from agriculture to real estate development was profitable. Hughes quotes George A. Sammis, who owned about 50 acres in the area and whose surname graces a local street, with such foresight.
“In 1900, he realized:” One of the most profitable crops a farmer can grow is a series of cottages to be occupied by the owners. ” This It was 1900, people started converting farms into homes, âHughes said.
The free exhibition will be on display until the end of the year.
SEE THE EXHIBITION
The exhibition will be on display until the end of the year. It is open to the public free of charge by appointment.
Call the city clerk’s office at 631-351-3206 or the city archivist at 631-351-3035 to schedule a visit.
A video tour led by Town of Huntington Clerk Andrew P. Raia can be viewed on the town’s website, https://huntingtonny.gov/news/?FeedID=4624.