Summer 2017 with the Ecological Culture Initiative

by Jane Karetny

The serendipitous opportunity to work with a beloved professor, Marc Fasanella, in the early stages of his non-profit, brought me out to the beautiful town of Hampton Bays on Long Island, NY. Marc founded the Ecological Culture Initiative (ECI) to create a sense of place and culture of community engagement with the local ecosystem through advocacy, education, and local action. The organization’s initiatives focus on protecting sensitive environments and growing healthy food, as well as a sound social and fiscal economy. As the Director of the Farm Intern Program, I supervised interns and volunteers, as well as maintained our teaching garden and backyard permaculture farm. Finding additional interns, building ECI's community network, and helping to run Saturday Farmers’ Markets have been important components of the job as well.

A truly thrilling experience was an Organic Farm-to-Table dinner on June 22, 2017. The longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice is traditionally celebrated by many cultures for the bounty that summer brings. Marc and his wife Anne were away training at the Sivananda Ashram and Vedanta Center in Woodburne, NY for the entire month of June, so a small crew were left in charge to execute the event: Angela Lapeer, a family friend of Marc’s, the managing Director of ECI (my age from Canada), and Mia, Marc's 21-year-old daughter, ECI’s Secretary and Food Analyst.

With varied experience in high-end dining and event planning, we put on a dinner that blew expectations out of the water. From menu design, to food preparation, event setup, management, and hosting, to clean up, our staff worked like a well-oiled and highly functional machine. Amidst the flowers of a local meadow and farmer’s market, 25 guests shared strawberries in a ceremony that celebrated the summer solstice, love for the land, and the growers that produced the beautiful feast.

Aside from fitting in some reading about agriculture, permaculture, and orchards, I spent much of my free time with nature, where I belong. Living without a phone for two months was both frustrating and serene. I spent time cycling, swimming in the ocean, practicing yoga, skateboarding, and investigating the best place in town for pastries.

With hope that this past summer also provided you loving vitamin D, time for gratitude, and a little bit of fun.

Love, Jane • July 6th, 2017
Hampton Bays, NY



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