My Self-Guided North Fork Hen House Tour

Since Chickapalooza, I had been counting down the days to attend the North Fork Hen House Tour that was held on Saturday, June 15th, sponsored by Cornell University’s Long Island Horticultural & Research Extension Center. As my husband Chris hammered away on our upcoming home Sheridan Green, my father and I went on the self-guided tour that spanned from Yaphank, New York to Southold, New York. 

The fifteen locations on the tour ranged from: farms, gardens, bed and breakfasts, stores and residential homes—each one had something to crow about when it came to chicken coops. At Sheridan Green we are planning on having backyard chickens for eggs, so the focus of our tour was residential homes with hen houses.

1st Stop: Vultaggio Hen House: Wading River, New York

Sandra and Carl renovated part of their backyard shed into a hen house three years ago. The chicken coop has an outside wire enclosed run area for the chickens to roam freely. In the evening, a few hours before the sun sets the chickens free-range the property which has helped to keep the ticks at bay. The tick situation out east on Long Island is the worst it has ever been; not only do chickens and guinea hens provide fresh eggs everyday, but also can contribute to your tick prevention program.

The couple has been transforming their property into a backyard sanctuary with beautiful flowers for pollinators and a vegetable garden that will provide sustenance for most of the year.

2nd Stop: Gardner Hen House: Wading River, New York

Sandy Gardner and her daughter Amanda are both passionate about chickens and goats. The original horse barn was converted into a chicken and goat house; chickens on one side and goats on the other. The chickens provide eggs and recently Sandy has begun milking the goats to try her hand at making a variety of cheese.

There is an ample amount of space for the 20 hens, with wooden baskets filled with hay for chicken lounging and large nesting boxes for egg laying. The outside run area is a shared space for the goats and chickens to roam and adjacent to the barn is a large garden. This property is a great example on how to produce your own food and make your property work for you. Something that we aspire to at Sheridan Green.

3rd Stop: Bridgen Hen House: Southold, New York


Dr. Mark Bridgen, Professor and Director of the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center at Cornell University led the seminar for Chickapalooza at the Garden of Eve Organic Farm and Market this past April. He has been raising his own chickens for more than 25 years and is an authority on the care and management of chickens at the home. The Bridgen Hen house was built last year and includes a green roof as well as a small solar panel for a light bulb. Three breeds of chickens reside here: Ameraucanas, Barred Rocks and Brahmas which lay blue and green eggs.

The coop has an easy-access nesting box on the outside and a small storage shed on one side to store food and supplies. Mark provided a sheet of deer-resistant plants that I was thrilled to obtain considering Sheridan Green is located in Hampton Bays/Red Creek area where the deer are most prolific; hence why we created a rooftop garden above the carport.

4th Stop: Connie Cross Hen House: Cutchogue, New York

The property of Connie Cross was magical, a true fairy tale of multiple chickens, fowl and goats living within a forest amongst the most beautiful gardens you have ever seen. This was a jaw dropping experience; a village of roosters and hens of every kind, and goats lounging about as if they were being fed grapes by hand.

You have to see it to believe it. Unfortunately, Connie was not there to give us a tour so we meandered around the property in complete awe. Connie Cross is a renowned gardener and owns Environmentals Nursery that is a wholesale supplier of fine plant materials to garden centers, growers and landscapers all over the east coast and beyond.

There were two bed and breakfasts on our list to visit: Andrew’s Legacy and The Farmhouse; both places were in Cutchogue. We did not have enough time to visit with them, however I am hoping to fulfill my hen house tour bucket list in the near future.

Maybe next year there will be a South Fork Tour de Coop and you will see Sheridan Green Hen House as one of your stops along the way.

Koppert Cress is Growing in Riverhead

Among the North Fork's farms and wineries, there has been a curious buzz about the renovated greenhouse that sits on 30 acres at Sound Avenue and Horton Street in Riverhead. The vibrant colors and aromatics that are contained in this state-of-the-art greenhouse facility are that of Koppert Cress, a company that specializes in flavor packed Microgreens, Micro vegetables and Specialties. These are seedlings of heirloom plants, which have their own specific effect on the senses. They deliver unique greens uncut and alive in their natural state all year long for chefs, hotels, caterers and gourmet markets throughout the world.

Koppert Cress: Rock Chives Cress, Sakura Cress and Affilla Cress

My first introduction to Koppert Cress was at the 3rd Annual Harvest East End in Bridgehampton and shortly after the 6th Annual North Fork Foodie Tour. My taste buds were dazzled with flavor. I tried the Popcorn Shoot that was the width of a toothpick and 3-4-inches long. The sweet condensed corn flavor was as if I shoved about 100 perfectly harvested kernels of corn in my mouth and somehow was able to chew. I then sampled the Affilla Cress, that taste like fresh peas, Salty Fingers, that have a crisp salty punch and Micro Wasabi that is spicy like horseradish. The amount of flavor these tiny morsels hold is outstanding and almost unbelievable until you try them. I suppose it has something to do with the seeds, which are culled from around the world and sold in their infancy to maximize potent and exacting flavors.

Koppert Cress, Specialties: Popcorn Shoots

Koppert Cress, Specialties: Salty Fingers

To top off my experience I was presented with the Sechuan Button, the yellow bud of a flower found in Africa, South America and some parts of Asia. To try this is startling: the sensation starts with a sweet tingling on the top of your tongue, followed by an overall “Pop Rocks” explosion in your mouth with a numbing effect. You will either hate it or love it (I am on the fence) and sure you will never forget the first time you try it.

Koppert Cress, Specialties: Sechuan Buttons

Koppert Cress started on July 1, 2002 in Monster, Netherlands, after being purchased by Rob Baan. In 1993 and 2001 the company received the prestigious AGF Innovation Award. This biannual award sparked further developments and since then Koppert Cress has grown to be one of the leading horticultural businesses in the world.

In October 2006, Koppert Cress launched its first franchise in the United States purchasing the former 30,000-square-foot Peconic Greenhouse in Cutchogue, New York.

The company selected the North Fork for logistic and climatological reasons. Cutchogue is perfectly situated close enough to the restaurants of New York City and the surrounding area, which are considered the country’s culinary epicenter and exactly where Koppert Cress wanted to be.

Nicolas Mazard, Director of Sales & Marketing for Koppert Cress USA

So, when Nicolas Mazard, the Director of Sales and Marketing for Koppert Cress contacted me to schedule a tour of the greenhouse in Riverhead—I jumped at the invitation. I met Nicolas on a very cold Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. in front of the newly renovated greenhouse that was beaming from the reflection of the sun. The beam of light was very reflective of Nicolas’ proud sentiment towards this new expansion and the Koppert Cress products, which he calls “our children”.

Sun Beaming on Koppert Cress' New Greenhouse in Riverhead on Sound Avenue and Horton Street. 

Scupper detail on Koppert Cress' New Greenhouse

Nicolas’ is of French decent and the combination of his studies is very unique. Having a Degree in Horticulture and in Sales, Merchandising and Related Marketing Operations makes him a passionate Farmer with a marketing mind.

“I have been working for Koppert Cress for 10 Years,” says Nicolas. “I started out as a Marketing Manager for the French Market in the Netherlands and in October of 2006 came to the United States to help establish the Cutchogue location and eventually became the Director of Sales and Marketing in 2008.”

As we walked through the greenhouse Nicolas was extremely happy to see his trial microgreens taking well to their new environment. He affectionately states, “Each plant is like a lady and has a different tolerance to the cold”. The water and room temperatures in the greenhouses are carefully monitored and the staff uses biological pest control methods, releasing the natural predators of unwanted insects.

Nicolas Mazard, Director os Sales and Marketing admiring how well the trial plants are taking to their new greenhouse.

You cannot help but notice that the greenhouse is four times the size of the Cutchogue location.

“This new space can provide more products across the United States for our consumers. I am proud we will be the largest microgreens grower in the United States in terms of volume. This will allow us to spread our wings and grow,” Nicolas explains. “I want people to understand what we are doing, and the good we are doing on many levels.”

Nicolas Mazard’s passion and goodwill is evident. He is a horticulturist at heart and a marketer in his mind that’s not only enamored with Koppert Cress products but someone who genuinely cares about his community.

 “Hiring a lot of people will stimulate the economy on the North Fork,” says Nicolas.

“We are also in discussions with a well-known culinary institute in New York City on developing a special partnership and program for the school.”

Koppert Cress Apple Blossom

As I was admiring the 30 acres where the new Koppert Cress greenhouse sits, I asked Nicolas, “Is this where you were thinking of hosting an annual farmers market?” He said, “Yes, imagine all the good we can do by lending a hand to our fellow farmers and community.”

Koppert Cress will be coming to the New York City farmers markets in the near future. Check out their facebook page to get the latest updates.

All year-round you can call ahead to place an order and pick up your items at the Cutchogue greenhouse. In warmer months you can buy from the farmers stand at the front entrance. Phone: 613.734.8500. Address: 23423 Middle Road / Route 48. Cutchogue, NY 11935. Website: