Behind the Mask: Vincent Lopez, Owner and Farmer of 4 E Green Farm
Buying local farm produce at a Farmers Market is always a good idea. The food is fresher, it hasn’t spent days in a cold room or refrigerated truck, and you are taking part in supporting the local economy. Plus you get to enjoy the warmth, the light of being out doors, seeing the neighbors and Oh! the vegetables -it’s difficult to find this quality elsewhere.
This week I had the pleasure of spending the day with Vincent Lopez and his crew on the 4E green farm in Yaphank. Vincent and his sons work hard, working his gardens all year around, and selling at several different markets each week.
We love Vincent’s tents with all of the fresh vegetables that they’ve picked (depending on the daylight) just that morning or last night. As we walked out to the farm I asked Vincent questions about his growing techniques, how he managed the seasons, his water supply and many other things.
“We are a 5-acre, all-season, vegetable farm with 10 greenhouses located in Yaphank, New York, it is owned and managed by me (Vincent) and my two sons Daniel and Jerry. I acquired the farm in September 2019 with the hopes of expanding within a few years. Everything is grown organically with no pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, or chemicals. We prepare our own compost that is used throughout the farm. We really let our plants develop and grow themselves with no GMOs or fertilizer We primarily grow vegetables, for example tuberous (root vegetables), peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, squashes, onions, garlic, and leafy greens. Those are only a few of them. We also love to specialize in vegetables grown around the world, the stuff you won’t find at your local grocery store, like our Baby Bok Choy, Yu Choy, Malabar, Green Spinach, Fuzzy Squash, Bottle Gourd, and Gai Lan.”
When we arrived at his first green house, I noticed a source of clear water coming from the ground nearby and running along the edge of the garden like a small stream. This is where Vincent is growing the last zucchini, and tomatoes of the summer; rows of cauliflower for the winter months; a wide band of beautiful green parsley, broccoli, carrots and much more.
When I asked Vincent, How his work changed since the pandemic? He told me: “During the pandemic, I noticed how many of my customers and plenty of other people I came across really made a stronger effort to make healthy choices and eat well. They changed everything from their diet and routine. Anything to keep a strong and healthy immune system. Now whenever I have customers come to my farm stand, I really try to advise and educate my customers on the many health benefits, and nutrients that all vegetables provide for them.” This is one of the reason we “hand pick” our vendors at TMV because they are not only knowledgeable but they care.
I took pictures while Vincent started picking and filling crates. He showed me his water source out back and let me wander all around. When I had enough pics, I offered to help pick, and in no time I filled two crates with Boc Choy, then watched Vincent quickly cut carrots and tie them into neat green bunches, ready to sell.
Linda: What motivates you about being a vendor at TVM?\
Vincent: Working with you and David is such a delight, you really do an excellent job running the market and making sure that everyone from the vendors to all the people who come to attend are welcome and taken care of. The environment of the market bring is a very warm and family friendly ambiance. All the vendors arrive with friendly smiles and happy attitudes. And the people truly come to support their local farms and businesses.”
Linda: What do you do to recharge outside of work?
Vincent: “To me, after a long day of work, there is nothing better than a delicious, well-earned meal. Every Sunday, after working a long and hard week, I love spending time with my sons by going to a good restaurant, ordering excellent appetizers, a delicious entrée and if the occasion calls for it, a nice cold beer. Just talking and sharing the meal with my sons, motivates me to start the week with a better attitude.”
Linda: Do you have any favorite farmers market foods or tips you can share?
Vincent: “ I am a big food guy, every time I am at the Three Village Market and have a second to step away from my tent, I always to pick up one of Sal and Jerry’s bakery crumb cakes, a container of goat cheese from my good friend Marky over at The Big Cheese NY, and some chocolates from Chocology. If you are new to the market, come visit us and IF you have the time, I recommend going to all the vendors and learning a little bit of what each one brings. For example, Ann Marie is the other farm at the market, she has also vegetables. But also, fruit, like watermelon, blueberries, cantaloupe, and pears. Something we don’t have.”
Linda: My final question was: Is there anything else you would like our shoppers and market community to know?
Vincent: “I am always open to suggestion, if there is any vegetable or anything else my customers and fellow market community would like to see us to grow. Just stop by the tent or email us at email@example.com Our website is also live at https://www.4egreenfarm.com for any further information ”
Vincent, Danny and the crew were very generous with their time, and I didn’t get back to my car until nearly three hours later. I left with an unexpected gift of some eggplants for me to give to my mom. (Mom makes the best eggplant and loves sending eggplant towers to 4E on Fridays) But more than that I drove back smiling, so happy to have had this privileged insight into the daily work of someone who loves his job.
While I was driving home and thinking about what I would write for this article I was also thinking about being at market on Friday; I love that often I look over and see Vincent and his sons keeping the many regular shoppers happy as they chat to customers while they work.
There is no climax to this story, or moral, unless it is to say if you are lucky enough to have people growing locally, then support them as much as you can, and never ever underestimate the work required to bring those fruits and vegetables to the market.