Sunday, September 6, 2009

Get Lost (and Find Fun) in the Amazing Snail Corn Maize

Photo (Lexi Van de Walle): Fairview Farm at Mecox Bay
Photo (Lexi Van de Walle): Fairview Farm at Mecox Bay's Corn Maze Design, 2009
Photo (Melissa): Lightheated Locavore and 8 foot corn at the Snail Corn Maze at Fairview Farm on Mecox Bay

Yesterday, I went over to Fairview Farm Stand at Mecox Bay in Bridgehampton to see the Ludlow Family’s new corn maze for the 2009 fall season. I had heard they planted the maze in the shape of a snail in honor of the SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT, the real food organization with chapters all over the world including on Long Island and NYC.

Slow Food’s logo is, of course, a snail. As you can see from the photograph of me, the corn is a good 7-8 feet tall and so the only way to actually see the snail design is from an aerial view (there are postcards with the aerial shot at the farm).

I had a chance to catch up with Melissa, Maize Guide and Ticket Taker, as Harry Ludlow was very busy on this bustling Saturday selling fruits, vegetables (they had a kazillion tomatoes) and his brother Art’s famous and delicious Mecox Dairy artisinal cheese.

The maze is split into two halves, or phases, according to Melissa, and each half takes about 30 minutes from start to finish (provided you don’t get lost) “which is about the maximum for a typical four year old” she said.

In awe at the scope of the maze, I asked her how it was planted. She explained that before any corn is ever planted, the design is sketched out on paper in a grid pattern with careful instructions on how far apart each row of corn is to be planted – a typical maze takes up 6-10 acres of land – and the rows are about 10 feet wide. Then, when the corn begins to grown, plants are removed to create the labyrinth design that’s on the sketch.

Nathan Ludlow, Harry Ludlow’s 25 year old son, fifth generation farmer and Cornell School of Agriculture graduate, managed the whole process of measuring rows, calculating how much corn to remove and when, and the placement of guideposts and clues to help you find your way to the finish (and avoid deadends and endless loops).

The over 100 acre farm is located at the corner of Mecox Road and Horsemill Lane and the entrance to the well-marked corn maze is down the dusty dirt road about ¼ of a mile on Horsemill Lane. Note that the Ludlow’s moved the farmstand building and refrigerators from the corner of the property down to the maize entrance for the fall festivities --- corn maze, corn cannon, pumpkin picking, homemade potato chips and grilled corn, and of course, delicious produce grown right there at this beautiful farm at Mecox Bay.

I’ll be back with my family later this year (we loved the PIG MAZE in 2007).

Claustrophobes beware!

About the Farm

The story of the Ludlow’s is an interesting one. After five generations of farming potato in Bridgehampton (aka “Potato” Hampton) where their 1870s farmhouse is located, the Ludlow’s abandoned the 2,200 ton a year potato business for a more lucrative and satisfying direct to consumer agriculture model. Brother’s Art and Harry each chose a passion. Art has a dairy farm and makes cheeses – with names like Atlantic Mist -- in an old potato barn and sells it at the local farmers markets and local cheese shops ($20/lb). Harry runs the Fairview farm stand stocked with high margin and tasty specialty fruits and vegetables. Their tomatoes look amazing this year - heirlooms as well.

In addition to the dairy cows, the Ludlows raise 250 heritage turkeys that they sell at Thanksgiving. And, heritage pigs – one will be roasted on September 26th at the Slow Food Pig Roast. Buy tickets here.

Read more about the Ludlow's Farm here.

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