Ina Garten's Favorite Farm Stand Has A Sweet Origin Story

It's no secret that Ina Garten loves her East End home in the Hamptons. Any tourists wanting to hit up some of the best spots for seafood, produce, or a good meal often look to her suggestions and guides featured in interviews, articles, and her personal website Barefoot Contessa. It's also no surprise, being a previous shop owner, that she has a love and affinity for specialty food stores and farm stands.

One of Ina's favorite farm stands lies in the seaside hamlet of Amagansett on Long Island's south shore (via Long Island Exchange). Mineral rich water influences the soil of Amagansett, making it a vibrant and lush area for farming. But freshly laid eggs, vibrant strawberries picked to perfection, and farm-to-plate meals are not the only things that bring Garten to Amber Waves. 

The underlying story behind Baldwin and Merrow's purchase of the farmland and stand is a story of friendship, passion, and commitment: In 2016, years after entering into a lease agreement with Maggie de Cuevas in 2009, Katie Baldwin and Amanda Merrow of Amber Waves, who recognized this wealthy combination of sea and soil, purchased the land from de Cuevas, per Peconic Land Trust.

Friends met at an internship

Surprisingly, Baldwin and Merrow did not start out as farmers. Baldwin was working in foreign policy in Los Angeles at the World Affairs Council and then at the Council on Foreign Relations in Manhattan. But reading a book titled "This Common Ground" started her on a path to exploring food production, which finally led her to an apprenticeship with Scott Chaskey at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, per Amber Waves. Meanwhile, Merrow grew up on a 100-acre retired dairy farm and studied Economics and Environmental Studies.

As Garten tells it on her show, "Be My Guest," the two wome got off a train to realize that they were going to the same internship and there began their friendship. 

As the women worked at the apprenticeship, they fell in love with the land but noticed with surprise that the diverse foodshed was missing one key ingredient: cooking grain. Together they wrote up a plan to use the conserved Petonic Trust farmland for grain production. And, the result of hard work and a dream was the revival of wheat production in the area, per Amber Waves.

Food education is crucial

Amber Waves is a 501(c)(3) and prides itself on three pillars, writes KitchnCommunity Supported Agriculture (CSA), food education, and The Amagansett Wheat Project. These focuses have led to strength and success as Amber Waves boasts a CSA of 250 families, a thriving market and cafe, and is slated to soon become one of the premier educational farm operations in the country, Amber Waves reveals. Their educational programs are geared toward children. In an interview with Kitchn, Merrow says their food education program for children "distinguishes" them from other farms on the East End. They have worked with thousands of children in food education.

As two women who found each other and their passion in an internship, it's no surprise they continually give back and inspire other young hopefuls. They launched their own apprenticeship in 2012 that trains "the next generation of farmers and [teaches] them the art of sustainable agriculture." 

Merrow describes her partnership with Baldwin and the founding of Amber Waves farm as "a wild and joyous ride" (via Amber Waves).