Peconic Community School Shares their Progressive Perspective

“The more closely he has observed the tugboat, the more deeply he has been stirred by it, and the more eagerly and vividly he will strive to recreate it, in building, in drawing, in words.” ― Caroline Pratt

The North Fork Education Initiative’s second annual Share: A Celebration of Education fundraiser and cocktail reception was held last Sunday at the Golden Earthworm Organic Farm in Jamesport, N.Y. to benefit the Peconic Community School, a holistic elementary school that uses a project-based, arts-integrated curriculum to deepen learning and promote creativity for children ages 3-11. The evening was enchanting as the Peconic Community School shared their progressive perspective on the upcoming school year and the future ahead.

Supporters from the community gathered on the beautiful grounds of the Golden Earthworm Farm to hobnob, sip and nosh on locally sourced farm fare by local chefs: Michael Meehan of H2O Seafood Grill, Noah Schwartz of Noah’s, Lia Stanco Fallon of The Riverhead Project, Amelia & Michael Hegeman of Healthy Gourmet, Todd Jacobs of Fresh, an artisanal frozen treat by Joe & Liza's Ice Cream and pours by the Shinn Estate Vineyard, Jamesport Vineyards and Blind Bat BreweryThe Golden Earthworm Farm has served as an outdoor classroom for the Peconic Community School kids, where they plant, harvest and spend time with the animals.

There were silent auction items from the East End to bid on to benefit the Peconic Community School, student gallery work on display and live music was performed by The Soul Jazz Train Express; a band who is on a mission to expose kids of all ages to their unique melodies; an appropriate tone for a progressive affair.

For Kathryn Casey Quigley and her sister Elizabeth Casey-Searl growing up on the North Fork has given them a strong sense of place and an appreciation for its natural beauty. So much so that in 2010 they and several like-minded people in the community came together to launch the North Fork Education Initiative, a nonprofit on the North Fork of Long Island that offers a new educational model for the community through an independent school—Peconic Community School— and programs that foster community, creativity and sustainability for all on the East End of Long Island. 

First rw from left: Lea Abrams, Sharon Cook, Alison Aldredge, Kathryn Casey Quigley. Second row from left: Liz Casey-Searl, Colleen Hanley, Trish Eckardt

In Fall of 2012, the Peconic Community School opened its doors to its first group of 9 students. This Fall, they will be expanding to include a pre-school combined with their K-5; they presently have 26 students enrolled and counting. “One of the philosophies we follow at our school is place-based education. The surrounding area becomes the classroom and a deep understanding and intimate knowledge of our local farms, vineyards, and waterways is an ongoing part of our curriculum and school culture,” says Quigley, founding member of the North Fork Education Initiative and Co-Executive Director of the Peconic Community School. 

Lea Abrams, guest speaker.

The guest speaker for the evening was Lea Abrams; a respected and revered educator for 30 years and formerly a beloved teacher of the Ross School, in East Hampton and Bridgehampton. Abrams spoke about the difference between traditional and progressive teaching methods. 

Traditional: everything that can be studied has a limitation.
Progressive: everything that can be studied is boundless.

Her speech jogged my memory back to 1st grade when I was seven years old. The entire class was tasked to participate in a color by numbers winter mural; it was enormous and spanned the entire classroom wall. As a child I was creatively curious and asked lots of questions, so much so that the teacher would answer, “This is the way it is.” When it was my turn to color I turned to one of my classmates and said, “Wouldn’t it be cool to color part of the snow blue?” My rationale was the snow casts a blue color at times when the sunlight shines on it. I decided not to ask the teacher for permission because I knew she would not want to hear my logic beyond the task at hand. So I quickly began to tag the snow areas with blue chalk; I wanted to make a statement, I wanted to be heard. 

Some might say I was a troublemaker and should have done as instructed; I would say I was thirsty for that teachers undivided attention. When the teacher saw what I had done, she reprimanded me in front of the entire class and stated, “Laura will never participate in a mural of any kind, ever again, you ruined it for everyone.” I felt as if I committed a crime. In that moment I made a choice, to either crawl into my shell and squander all creative and inquisitiveness in my being or that I would be an artist where I can visually and verbally express myself; I chose the latter. Today, I am a graphic designer and now blogger, freely creating and communicating. How many children do you think have a similar story and tragically went the other way, shouldn’t students be empowered? 

"The ultimate aim of education is to enable individuals to become the architects of their own education and through that process to continually reinvent themselves." - Elliot W. Eisner

Kathryn Casey Quigley, founding member of the North Fork Education Initiative and Co-Executive Director of the Peconic Community School. 

“At the Peconic Community School we approach education through the lens of the child: social, emotional, spiritual and academic. And rather than being bound to one particular singular educational philosophy we are bound to the child,” says Quigley. Their guiding principles are rooted in: exploration and discovery, cooperation and collaboration, creativity and imagination, conversation and sustainability, wonder and reverence, respect and responsibility, multiple intelligences and academic excellence.

As a parent the stories you might hear are: “My child does not like school, they do not understand him,” “My daughter feels lost,” “Mom, why don't they listen to me,” “Dad, I do not learn anything in school, it is so boring.”

And after 1 year here is what they are hearing: “Mommy, I'm not too sick to go to school, can I go to school all summer?” “When do I get to go back to school again?”

“It takes a village to raise a child, but a community to truly change the narrative to shift these stories,” says Quigley.

We can become agents for change in our schools, even in our public school systems. The Peconic Community School’s holistic approach is a powerful model for our children, for the generations to come and the community at large.

For more information contact: and to learn more about the Peconic Community School:

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with Seared Scallops and Tastes for a Cause

Are you all still stuffed from Dan’s Taste of Two Forks or are you hungry for more food soriées? I gather you are ready to put on your "Eattendee" caps, but before you dash and dine here is a light meal that was inspired by my taste of local watermelon gazpacho with Jonah crab; prepared by Chef Randy Santos of Navy Beach in Montauk, NY. This dish will get your palates going, so loosen your belt buckles for the next wave of tastes for a cause which will be listed below my recipe.


Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with Seared Scallops



  •  2 ½ pounds of ripe yellow tomatoes; blanched, peeled and cored.
  • 1 hothouse cucumber; chopped, peeled and seeded
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped and seeded
  • ½ jalapeño; seeded, chopped and cut in half
  • 4 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
  • ½ cup of good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Sea Salt
  • Pepper to taste

  • 6 large Sea Scallops
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter for searing
  • A pinch of Amagansett Sea Salt, Montauk Blend to sprinkle on top

    For Garnish

  • Pea shoots and currant tomatoes
  • directions


    1. In boiling water blanch the tomatoes for 30 seconds; cut a cross hatch at the bottom of the tomato before inserting. Cool the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water and then peel the skin off the tomato. Remove the cores and chop the tomatoes, saving all of the juice.
    2. Place half of the yellow tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, shallots, vinegar, olive oil and ½ tablespoon of salt and a pinch of pepper in a blender or food processor.
    3. Puree until the soup is completely smooth. Taste for seasoning and repeat with the rest of the ingredients. You can chill the soup in the refrigerator or have it at room temperature.

    4. On high heat sear the scallops on both sides; approximately 2 minutes on both sides or just when the scallop gets a golden crust. Do not over cook.
    5. When done, place one scallop in the middle of a shallow bowl and pour the gazpacho around the scallop up to its middle; the top should peek out.
    6. Finish the Scallop with a sprinkle of the Amagansett Sea Salt, Montauk Blend.

      For Garnish
    7. Place tomato currants around the scallop as well as the pea shoots and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

      Serves 6

    Tastes for a Cause


    Food Riot, Saturday, July 27

    Benefiting Slow Food East End, this will be held at the Hamptons Preventative Health & Sustainable Technology Expo at Dodds & Eder in Sag Harbor, NY on July 27 and 28, sponsored by Turtle Shell Health. The casual cocktail party is from 5:30-7pm and the dinner party is from 7-9pm and will be cooked by Chef Todd Jacobs of Fresh Hamptons. There are various combinations and offerings to attend this action packed weekend. Go here for the full details.


    Great Chefs Dinner, Sunday, July 28th

    The late Jeff Salaway and one of the school's founders believed that the growing, preparation and sharing of food is a primal human experience and the foundation of family and community. In the state-of-the-art kitchen named Jeff's Kitchen students prepare lunch for their classmates. Manhattan and East End chefs will be cooking it up to benefit the Hayground School's Jeff's Kitchen to support its food education program and the Jeff Salaway Scholarship Fund. The cocktail party is from 5:30–7:30pm for $175 / $40 for children; the dinner is from 7:30–10pm for $1,000 (cocktail party included). 


    Share: A Celebration of Education, for Peconic Community School, Sunday, August 11th

    The mission of the Peconic Community School is to immerse children in the beauty and splendor that is the East End, so they can learn to be stewards of their communities. This cocktail reception will be held at the Golden Earthworm Organic Farm in Jamesport, NY from 5-8pm. Tickets are $75. Tastes of field-to-plate dishes prepared by top local chefs: Michael Meehan of H20 Seafood Grill, Lia Stanco Falon of the Riverhead Project, Todd Jacobs of Fresh Hamptons, Joe & Liza's ice cream, local beer by Blind Bat Brewery and wine being poured by Jamesport Vineyard, among others. 


    Harvest East End, Saturday, August 24th

    The 4th Annual Harvest East End is celebrating 40 Years of wine making in Long Island Wine Country; showcasing the region’s world class wines from 42 Long Island winemakers and featuring over 34 top regional chefs at McCall Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue, NY

    Festival Tasting: 7-9:30pm; $125 per person, if purchased no later than Sunday, August 11; $150 on or after Monday, August 12, and at the door (if available)

    The Vin-IP Experience, presented by Lincoln
    Private entrance 6-7pm; $250 per person or $2,500 per table of 10.

    This event is presented by Wine Enthusiast Magazine and organized by the Long Island Wine Council with support from Merliance. This fundraiser benefits four regional charities: East End Hospice, Group for the East End, the Peconic Land Trust and the Long Island Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Foundation.


    Dan's Taste of Two Forks was Hot!

    On Saturday, July 13th, the 3rd Annual Dan’s Taste of Two Forks was hot! It is the largest food soirée in the Hamptons that attracted foodies near and far to taste and sip the bounty of the North and South Forks of Long Island, known as the East End. For those of you who are not familiar with the East End, the forks extend into the Atlantic Ocean like a two-tined fork. Farms, fishers, artisanal food purveyors and winemakers share the riches of this region’s land, sea and vines.

    This sold out event was held under a tent at Sayre Park in Bridgehampton, on one of the most hot and humid evenings of the year; I should have brought my Wüsthofs as I could have cut the air it was so thick. An amalgamation of 36 restaurants, 8 specialty food purveyors and 17 vintners served and poured while we mingled and munched. And to add a little more sparkle to your champagne, the event was hosted by Bobby Flay and the Emcee was Alex Guarnashelli; an Iron Chef star-studded moment.

    A portion of the ticket proceeds went to All For The East End (AFTEE), an organization whose goal is to generate significant new and creative sources of funding and organizational support for the not-for-profit organizations of Long Island's East End townships.


    Memorable Tastes

    North Fork

    Noah’s, Greenport, NY—Chef Noah Schwartz
    Crab stuffed deviled eggs

    If you are not a lover of deviled eggs you can be swayed. Chef Schwartz is serving these beauties up at his restaurant and once you sink your teeth into these creamy, sweet and slightly spicy bite you will be a fan forever. The lemon aioli combined with the sweet crab and a touch of cayenne pepper was a fantastic combination.

    First and South, Greenport, NY—Chef Taylor W. Knapp
    Chocolate covered pork rinds, with anise, fennel, and smoked bay salt

    Are you thinking what I am about to say? “Chocolate covered pork rinds, that seems so wrong?” And quite the contrary! We all know that sometimes opposites attract; salty and sweet go hand in hand and believe it of not —so does pork rinds and chocolate—a surprising culinary marriage of sorts. The pork rind was covered in chocolate and just on top was anise, fennel and smoked bay salt; it was sweet and savory and a delicious pairing. Their presentation was clever as these little gems sat on a piece of driftwood. If you go to First and South be sure to ask them about the chocolate covered pork rinds.

    The Square, Greenport, NY—Chef Keith Luce
    NoFo duckling summer rolls

    Have you ever wondered what that packet of mystery duck sauce is suppose accompany when ordering Chinese take-out? I would guess that the majority of people use it on spareribs and an egg roll; at least I do. But how many of you order duck when taking-out Chinese food? I never do; considering I have about 100 packets in my cupboard, maybe I should. Chef Luce made his own special duck sauce that I would welcome over those mystery packs any day. This was sweet, slightly spicy and not overpowering to allow the duck to shine within this delicate bundle, bravo.

    Grana Trattoria Antica, Jamesport, NY—Chef David Plath
    Meatball shooters

    The best meatballs I have ever eaten were my great Aunt Mary’s. To this day no one can replicate her recipe. There is even a video of her preparing it and a written recipe to follow along and still not even close. Grana’s meatballs reminded me of my great aunt's; a moist and toothsome meatball with italian seasoning and a simple marinara. I only wished these were larger; but I made up for it by eating five.

    The Riverhead Project, Riverhead, NY—Chef Lia Fallon
    Summer sea scallop ceviche

    The ceviche was my first taste of the evening, a delicious starter to get my palate going. It was a summer party in my mouth; the sweet local scallops were marinated in the citrus juices and then combined with: corn, red and green peppers and romaine lettuce. This dish was bright, punchy, smooth and with a touch of heat. 


    South Fork

    Navy Beach, Montauk, NY—Chef Randy Santos
    Local watermelon gazpacho with jonah crab, petite basil and sea salt

    This savory bite kept my taste buds cool. I typically think tomatoes when I see gazpacho and this twist was a nice surprise; the yellow watermelon was silky, sweet and balanced beautifully with the crab. The basil and salt brightened the overall taste. I was inspired by this bite and will be working on my own gazpacho recipe soon, stay tuned.

    Sea Grille Restaurant at Gurney’s Inn, Montauk, NY—Chef Angelo Montemarano
    Organic quinoa salad mixed with lentils and chickpeas, served with mixed greens, tomatoes, carrots and dressed with lemon vinaigrette

    Quinoa has been the grain-rage for the past few years and it has taken me some time to enjoy this ancient, nutrient rich grain. Gurney’s Inn Resort and Spa is a historic oceanfront resort that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. I was surprised to see them serving this dish; Montauk is the fishing capital of the world and I assumed we would be tasting fresh fish from the local waters. There is however a spa component to Gurney's and the Sea Grille Restaurant prides themselves on being SPE Certified, a holistic approach that focuses not just on health, but on the sourcing, preparing and enhancing of food. The combined selection of ingredients was a powerful and healthful bite and the lemon vinaigrette heightened the taste of the quinoa, rich lentils and chickpeas.

    Joe and Liza’s Ice Cream, Sag Harbor, NY—Joe and Liza Tremblay
    Mexican chocolate spice ice cream

    Hands down my favorite taste; the Bikram Yoga heat levels under that tent may have contributed to this being my all-star and I bet the majority of the "eattendees" would agree. The cooling chocolate went perfect with the heat of the pepper; this was subtly sweet and spicy—how can you go wrong? It was so good that my husband Chris had to share it with the folks at Fresh Hamptons and for a good reason, he was sweating profusely and was thrilled to get a taste of this cold treat.

    Fresh Hamptons, Bridgehampton, NY—Chef Todd Jacobs
    Crisp Long Island duck confit with a warm salad of spinach, oven Yukon potatoes and sautéed forest mushrooms with a raspberry walnut vinaigrette; all local and organic.

    Duck Confit is one of my specialties and I appreciated the execution and thoughtful flavor profiles and balance within this dish. The duck and mushrooms were meaty and earthy, a nice complement to the sweet spinach and tangy vinaigrette. The potatoes added that additional layer of creamy yumminess. I would crown this dish Long Island’s finest. Chef Jacobs will be catering Food Riot on Saturday, July 27th, to help Slow Food East End Support Local Farmers Market; a dinner you do not want to miss.

    The Bell & Anchor, Sag Harbor, NY—Chef Sam McLeland
    Duck rillette on crostini with pickled red onions

    A rillette is a preparation of meat similar to a pate and so glad they did. On top of a crisp crostini was the duck rillette that was confit and the tang from the red pickled onions topped it off nicely, cutting through the richness of the duck rillette.

    Gourmet Sorbet, by the Sorbabes, Sag Harbor, NY—Nicole Cardone & Deborah Gorman. Summer cucumber white wine mint and juicy passion fruit lychee

    This is an all-natural, non-dairy sorbet. The fruit is sourced from local farms and is a refreshing treat with some interesting flavor combinations. The cucumber white wine mint was so refreshing; I can see this as a Le trou Normand, a palate cleanser in between courses or in a glass of sweet'tauk lemonade.

    Sarabeth’s Bakery, New York City—Sarabeth Levine
    Chocolate marmalade cookies

    Sarabeth Levine is a true Hamptonite; an award-winning pastry chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur and a legendary jam maker. Her buttery cookies were sandwiched with orange marmalade and then dipped in Belgian chocolate; melt-in-your-mouth delicious.


    Vineyards that were pouring


    Castello di Borghese, Jamesport Vineyards, Lenz Winery, LIEB Cellars, Macari Vineyards, Martha Clara Vineyards, Mattebella Vineyards, One Woman Wines and Vineyard, Palmer Vineyards, Pindar Vineyards, Raphael, Scarola Vineyards, Sherwood House Vineyards, Sparkling Pointe Vineyards & Winery, Suhru Wines, Wöllfer Estate Vineyards, Waters Crest Winery.


    If you missed Dan’s Taste of Two Forks and want to experience and taste your way through the North and South Forks of Long Island, you can attend the Harvest East End; this celebrates the wine-and-food bounty of Long Island Wine Country and will surely satiate the appetite and thirst of food enthusiasts. I attended last year, debuting as the out east foodie and I met some incredible food and beverage artisans. The celebration will be on Saturday, August 24th at McCall Vineyard & Ranch on the North Fork in Cutchogue, NY. 

    The train tracks we crossed over after Dan's Taste of Two Forks. Tent glowing in the background.