Peconic, New York
For the last 70 years, the Lee family has improved their farming and conservation practices with each growing season.
A lasting legacy
Sang Lee Farms is a certified organic specialty vegetable crop operation with a mission of providing their community with sustainable food options. They were founded in the mid 1940’s by brothers John, Hugh and George Lee. In 1987, George’s son, Fred, began operating the family business in Peconic, N.Y. Today, they grow more than 100 varieties of organic products including specialty vegetables, Chinese cabbages, various greens and radishes.
The Lee’s were early adopters of New York’s Agricultural Environmental Management program, and as a result, their cover crop usage increased their soil fertility and organic matter, suppressed weeds and reduced soil erosion. Sang Lee Farms was also recognized for their commitment to sustainable practices by receiving the 2020 New York Leopold Conservation Award. Fred said he was honored to receive this award and for him, it was “validation for some of the practices that we’ve been doing for many years.”
Each field at Sang Lee Farms is surrounded by a buffer zone of untilled cover crops and 50 to 75% of every field is left uncultivated after each growing season. Longer rest periods can break the repopulation of certain weeds while restoring soil health. Additionally, strips of cover crops provide habitat for wildlife.
Instead of using insecticide, the Lee family releases beneficial insects onto fields. Likewise, they encourage habitat for helpful predators by hanging bat houses, barn owl boxes and blue bird houses.
Most of their irrigation has been upgraded to a micro-drip system that conserves hundreds of thousands of gallons of water each growing season.
Stewards of the land and community
The hard-working people who make up Sang Lee Farms respect the land, nature, their employees, their neighbors and their community. With the help of Farm Credit East they have been able to deliver quality products while farming in a way that is responsible to the environment. Their hope is that through sustainable food, they can better connect people to the environment.