As Emma Hughes frolicked in her East Quogue backyard on a recent sunny Monday afternoon, the curious 3-year-old bent over and plucked a nearly ripened radish out of the ground to give to her mother Doria.
The radish was among a collection of plants and vegetables Ms. Hughes is growing on her half-acre property. Throughout the past several months, Ms. Hughes, a novice gardener, has been transforming her grassy yard into a blooming garden filled with more vegetables than she could possibly need to feed her family of five.
Ms. Hughes picked up gardening in the early spring when she enrolled in a series of adult classes offered by the Ecological Culture Initiative, or ECI, a nonprofit based in Hampton Bays, started two years ago by Marc Fasanella.
The nonprofit encourages residents, homeowners and even business owners to incorporate traditional, pesticide-free agricultural practices into their landscaping as some of the first steps to improving the environment.