Southold farmer KK (Kathy Keller) Haspel died Oct. 4. She was 63.
When she and her husband, Ira, bought their farm in 1999, KK had a vision to raise flowers. Heirloom tomatoes, garlic and many vegetables would soon join fields of poppies, sunflowers and zinnias. Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Newsday, News 12, and Edible East End featured her collaboration with local chefs in the farm-to-table movement.
As an advocate of biodynamic farming, KK welcomed the opportunity to teach others about restoring soil vitality. Adopting best environmental practices as a Green Guerilla, she opened her farm to community workshops throughout the year.
KK was dedicated to educating children about the food they could grow and eat, and she was tapped as the first master farmer serving the Edible School Yards on the North Fork. She was instrumental in establishing school gardens in Southold, Greenport, Orient, Cutchogue and Shelter Island, and the New Suffolk Waterfront Garden. Through her team effort, Southold now serves school-garden produce in the primary school cafeteria.
KK will be remembered for her irrepressible spirit, her good will, generous insight, optimism and open heart. Her enthusiasm for life was contagious to all who met her. She was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother.
In May, KK and Ira were named emeritus members of the Board of the Fiver Children’s Foundation. Together they donated their creative time and energy to design the buildings and lay out the grounds of Camp Fiver in Poolville, N.Y. Since its inception in 1998, KK and Ira have continued to help maintain the camp, which remains the centerpiece of the foundation’s year-round character-development program.
Before moving to the North Fork, KK was in the construction industry, building and renovating commercial and residential properties on Long Island. KK was also a Montessori teacher in Manhattan after graduating from New York University. She was an athlete who played for a national championship representing the LI Ladies Soccer League (over-26 division). KK was also a club champion in tennis and platform tennis at Southward Ho Country Club in Bay Shore.
KK was born on Dec. 13, 1950 in Rockville Centre, the daughter of Elizabeth and William Keller. She is survived by Ira; her son Max and his wife, Gaby, and their children Georgina and William. She is also survived by her mother; her brothers, Coty Keller and Bob Keller; and her sisters, Patty Max and Lisa O’Brian.
The family will receive visitors Saturday, Oct. 18, from 1 to 3 p.m. at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Mattituck.
Those wishing to remember KK can volunteer their time with a local school garden, or make a donation in her name to the Fiver Children’s Foundation (www.fiver.org) or the Lustgarten Foundation (www.curePC.org).
This is a paid notice.