At age 8, Nick Krupski began helping out on his family’s farm — picking, planting and playing in the soil, as well as learning to drive in a five-speed pickup.
Twenty years later, he has significantly more responsibility than handing seeds to his father and grandfather, having officially taken over the operation last month and thereby continuing the family’s foothold in agriculture for a fifth generation.
For Mr. Krupski, 28, it was just a matter of timing. His parents had encouraged him to try other jobs before making the decision, which he did.
He earned degrees in environmental science and geology at SUNY/Cortland and went on to acquire a graduate degree in biology and education from Long Island University’s C.W. Post. He later worked in habitat restoration and as a field operator for the Suffolk County Water Authority.
But leaving the North Fork was never really in his plans, said Mr. Krupski, who is in the midst of his second year as a Southold Town Trustee, a position his father held for 20 years.
“My whole goal has always been to stay here and be involved in the community,” he said. “Between the farm and the salt water I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
It’s a quality of life thing, said his father, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), who had run the family farm for more than 40 years.
“It’s a lifestyle and after he’s been out in the world, he has a good idea about what’s out there and what’s here,” he said.
The younger Krupski admits that as a child, he may not have appreciated growing up on a farm it for what it was, but looking back now, he said “it’s a bit a of a shocker” to realize he’s now running it.
Today, he is focused on the connection between agriculture and land preservation.
“It’s great to be a part of that because that’s why the North Fork is what it is,” he said.
“Especially on a day like today, you really appreciate it,” his father added. It was the first of May, a sunny and breezy day in Peconic, and all around things were turning green again.
Over the years the Krupski family farm has changed with the times and the needs of its customers. It’s something Nick Krupski said he’ll consider in the long term, but for now he’ll focus on learning the ropes. His younger sisters, Colleen and Kimberly, will be involved, too.
It’s important to be open to change, father and son agreed.
“I think at least with this farm, we’ve changed a little bit to cater to the people who are coming out to the small farms and the wineries, but then also keep the core values of what the locals want, which has always been tomatoes, corn,” Mr. Krupski said. One change that might make it a bit easier to run the business now, he said, is an upsurge in nutrition-driven people who seek out locally grown food that is not processed.
What does not change is the fact that it is a seasonal business, his father said. Farming is a gamble with Mother Nature, added Al Krupski Sr., a third-generation farmer, and the rich land is irreplaceable.
The transition between generations running the farm has no formula or set schedule, Al Krupski said. The work is done when it’s done, which Mr. Krupski said his son understands.
The youngest Krupski joked that so far it has been “organized chaos.” There’s definitely a learning curve, he said, which includes locating tools his father has moved among the family’s three farm locations in Peconic and Cutchogue, as well as upkeep on tractors from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.
“It’s definitely a unique opportunity,” he said of his new role. “Part of who I am is because I was raised on a farm.”