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FoodLab’s greenhouse is bursting with seedlings. (Photo credit: Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz)

Feeling that warmth creeping into the air a little more, day by day? You know what that means: It’s almost garden time!

Sure, you could go to Home Depot and fill your cart with starter plants from who-knows-where, but we’ve got a better idea. Head on over to FoodLab Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus and get some Long Island sourced, greenhouse-grown local veggies and garden pollinator-encouraging plants instead.

Think of all the pesto you will make! (Photo credit: Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz)

The list is impressive: nine types of tomatoes, including Sweet Millions, Red Deuce, Green Zebra and Lucky Tiger, along with veggie plants like cucumber, eggplant, hot chili peppers, bell peppers and a few varieties of pumpkin (yes, Long Island cheese pumpkin among them!).

There are tons of herbs, too, including the usual sought-after suspects, along with hyssop, chamomile, lemon balm and cilantro. And to encourage those bees to buzz, FoodLab also has yarrow, echinacea, milkweed, bee balm and many others.

“The garden-centric program will be on-going from now until the fall, as we have an amazing one acre plot of land that will be plowed by the Peconic Land Trust in less than two weeks time. FoodLab could use all of the help available on the East End to build out and maintain the planned educational space,” says Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, FoodLab’s program director.

Veggies, herbs and pollinator plants by the dozen are up for grabs at FoodLab this week. (Photo credit: Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz)

The sale of the plants will, of course, benefit FoodLab’s projects, such as this. The acre will be turned into a full-on pollinator garden, and will have a section with an apple orchard, fruit trees and berry bushes (think edible landscaping and carbon capture plants), a bio-intensive farming space and a Traditional Ecological Knowledge space to highlight indigenous knowledge and practices. 

This week, plants are available this week on Friday, May 12, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., as well as next week on Tuesday, May 15, 1 to 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 17, 3 to 6 p.m., Saturday, May 20, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday, May 21, 12 to 4 pm..

FoodLab is asking for a donation of $5 per pot, or $20 for 5 pots (although, psssst, they tend to give some away because they’re nice!).

But while the garden program is on-going, this selling of seedlings ends by May 23 as the School of Marine Sciences will be using the greenhouse to dry kelp. So, as Carmack-Fayyaz says, everything must go!

But also, it’s part and parcel to their new education programming, helping to bring a more sustainable food system to the East End.

“Just think how different our lives would be if we landscaped with edible plants. Why plant cherry trees that bear no cherries? Bradford pears that provide no pears?” says Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, FoodLab’s program director. “Why not plant blueberry and raspberry bushes and pollinator plants to benefit the beneficials and provide us with fast fruit? It’s really quite simple. It just requires a simple change of thinking.” 

Head on over to FoodLab at the Stony Brook Southampton campus at 39 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton.