The Long Island
Cheese Pumpkin Project
In October 2015 Cheryl Frey and Steph Gaylor were discussing underutilized regional varieties on a car ride to hear Vandana Shiva talk in Bridgehampton. It was from this discussion that the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project was born and blossomed into a widespread championing of a variety. The Long Island Regional Seed Consortium (LIRSC) then developed and implemented The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project in an effort to get various food system shareholders behind this local Long Island variety that had disappeared commercially from seed catalogs in the 1970’s.
This seed was collected and saved by a local seed saver, Ken Ettlinger (more about the seed's history can be found here.) and the pumpkin is being grown at a few farms currently, but it is not widely utilized or even known about on Long Island.
The mission of The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project is to preserve, restore, and bring awareness of this local Long Island variety. We advocate for the dynamic use of this regional pumpkin across a broad spectrum of organizations creating a coalition that includes chefs, growers, schools, and eaters. In an effort to raise awareness for the project, the LIRSC reached out to local farms, growers, chefs and not for profit organizations to encourage growers to not only plant the pumpkin, but to help teach consumers ways to prepare it and save the seeds for a new crop the following year.
In the winter of 2015, like-minded collaborators met with the LIRSC to form the LICPP ambassador program to help facilitate the distribution, growing, consumption and saving of the pumpkin. Each collaborator worked with their own organization to promote the project. The ambassador project was coordinated by Slow Food East End Board Member Laura Luciano. Through the hard work of the LIRSC, Luciano, and the ambassadors, the project gained national and international audiences.
In the late summer of 2016, through the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project, Blue Point Brewing Company brewed the very first Long Island Cheese Pumpkin beer, school gardens harvested pumpkins (one a whopping 30lbs!), chefs and restaurants created new and delicious cheese pumpkin recipes, and the importance of maintaining the LICP for future generations caught fire.
In November of 2016, Ken Ettlinger, Amy Goldman Fowler, and an impressive panel of professionals met to celebrate and discuss not only the important history of regional varieties, but how all can collaborate to maintain such varieties for future generations to enjoy.
The Long Island Regional Seed Consortium continues to maintain the LICP seed and fully research the historical importance of this one amazing pie pumpkin! Phase 2 of the project will be announced in the Spring of 2017.
- Collaborating and coordinating with farmers, breeders, non-profits, seed libraries, chefs, school gardens and gardeners to grow the LI Cheese Pumpkin
- Provide support and education concerning this program
- Ambassador program of the cheese pumpkin which will highlight the pumpkin within the organization. These organizations will have various tools and programs particular to the group.
- Researching archival materials and creating materials for purposes of historicity.
LICP Ambassadors include:
- Invincible Summer Farms, Southold, NY
- Salt of the Earth Seed Co., Mattituck, NY
- North Fork Table and Inn, Southold, NY
- Laura Luciano, Out East Foodie
- Amagansett Food Institute
- Hudson Valley Seed Company
- Cookshop, NY
- Hundred Acres, NY
- Vic's, NY
- Rosies, NY
- Sid Wainer and Son
- Chris Gerdes
- Slow Food East End
- Edible East End
- Edible Long Island
- Restoration Farm, Bethpage, NY
- Milk Pail Farms, Watermill, NY
- Eat Local NY
- Hallockville Museum Farm
Thank you to everyone who helped make Phase 1 of the project a success!
Phase 2 of the project will be announced Spring 2017.