Group for the East End Saves Our Shores
by roman roth
One of my pet peeves is when people continue to run their engine as they idle. I see it everywhere—the contractors who visit Wölffer Estate Vineyard, the truck drivers delivering pallets of glasses, and even people just running into the local grocer. In the summer, they let the engine run to keep the air-conditioning cool; in the winter, it’s to keep their cars warm. The environmental impact of keeping the car running isn’t on people’s minds, which is why the Hamptons—and the rest of the US—so desperately needs the education efforts of organizations like Group for the East End, which celebrates its 40th anniversary next week.
Also pressing for the Hamptons is use of nitrogen herbicides in public and private gardens. These chemicals get washed into our lakes, bays, and oceans through storm runoff, and their use could certainly be tempered. So what if you have some dandelions in your grass? At Wölffer we’re more tolerant of weeds or of outbreaks of disease in an effort to be better stewards of the land. If we have a small vineyard section with a fungus outbreak, we don’t spray 50 acres; when there’s an insect issue in one little block, we’re more tolerant. And if possible, we try to use organic products. We don’t use a lot of fertilizer in the vineyards because we strive for quality over quantity, but when we do, we use organic fertilizer like fish meal. It’s an example many others could follow.
I respect that Group for the East End targets its education efforts at both local businesses and private citizens. There is much more private land than farmland in the Hamptons, and if everyone chose to tend to his or her piece of sod using organic or sustainable methods, it could make a huge difference. It’s not just pointing the finger at somebody else; the effort starts at home.
I first got involved in Group for the East End nearly a decade ago through Christian Wölffer, who built such a jewel of a vineyard here in the heart of the Hamptons.We partnered with Group for the East End because we also live here, and when you see its tagline—“protecting the beauty and well-being of the place you love” (and, in our case, work, make a living, and plan for our children and our grandchildren to make wine here)—it’s a very natural connection to make.
We at Wölffer are proud to host Group for the East End’s 40th anniversary gala on June 23, and later in the summer, on August 25, to once again partner with the organization for the Harvest East End event that will serve as the kickoff for the Hampton Classic. The nice thing about attending these and other farm-to-table benefits we host is that you can meet people who can and will influence the future of America. Talking to people about the size of their cars or the way they treat their land can be unpleasant, but it’s the only way to start to bring about change.
It’s important to make an effort instead of a simple donation. Do a little more; be a role model for your children; go out of your way. We’re only hurting ourselves—and future generations—if we don’t pay more attention to our surroundings.
Group for the East End 40th anniversary benefit and auction; Saturday, June 23, 6 to 11 PM; Wölffer Estate Vineyard, 139 Sagg Rd., Sagaponack; groupfortheeastend.org. Harvest East End takes place on August 25 at the Hampton Classic Horse Show Grounds in Bridgehampton; harvesteastend.com.
photography by Anita Wright (spring planting program); Group for the East End (kids); Christopher London/Manhattan society.com (birch, baldwin, miller)