An Article From Saveur Magazine

By Hilary Mills

Carolyn Lester Snyder started her farm stand as a young girl over forty years ago, under the magnificent chestnut trees next to her grandmother Winifred Lester's house on Three Mile Harbor Road. Carolyn's father, Albert Lester, who inherited the 20-acre, 250-year-old Round Swamp family farm, built her a small red stand to peddle her goods, and there she'd wait for someone to stop for a cucumber or a few ears of corn. "We were a poor family," Carolyn remembers, "but my grandma Lester's table always looked like a gourmet feast. I don't know where all that food came from."

Carolyn on Tractor

There was always a tablecloth. Milk was served in pitchers. Homemade relishes, chutneys, mustard cauliflower, bread-and-butter pickles–the kind we still do today–accompanied every meal. There would always be roasted chickens or ducks or turkeys or pork, all raised on the farm. Stews–maybe of chicken and potatoes and dumplings–or samp {a local corn dish of hominy, bean, and ham or pigs' feet} were kept on the coal stove for hours. Beans, baked with salt pork, were usually part of the meal. Tall crocks of salt pork were kept in the root cellar with the canned fruits and vegetables. I never saw a baked potato on Grandma's table. It was always scalloped or mashed. And everyday there were pies–lemon meringue, peach, beach plum–or cakes, yellow with chocolate frosting, set to cool by the window."

Claire Farming
Shelly Feeding Ducks
Carolyn and Shelly

When Snyder's father died in 1968, she knew she had to carry on: "I've always been sure, in my heart and soul, that the farm market would continue." By the early '80s, her fisherman husband, Harold Snyder, had faced the reality that the commercial fishing in the Hamptons was in serious trouble, and had turned to farming instead. Today the Snyders live in Grandma Lester's house. There is a swimming pool where the apple tree used to be, and the farm stand, now used to ice fish, has been joined by seven buildings and 14 family members in the country market know as Round Swamp Farm.

Claire in the Fields

Tall, red headed, and grandmother of eight, the 68 year-old Snyder looks an unlikely matriarch. But she has forged a role at the market for her sisters Dianna and Claire, her daughters Lisa and Shelly, their husbands, and their children. Today the produce of Round Swamp Farm, and the fruit of that produce (carrot cakes and zucchini breads, chutneys, sweet and hot pepper relishes, pickles and salsas, fruit jellies and jams, cobblers, pies and muffins), together with the Round Swamp fish market (stocked by Charlie Niggles and Al Schaffer, Shelly's husband), support six households. "They take pride in it because it's all theirs," Snyder explains. "The Lester legacy is driving all of them."