Here is a brief outline of the farming history of our family.
January 21, 2023
Michael Anthony Babinski
Oct 4, 1957 ~ Jan 21, 2023
I just learned that Mike Babinski passed away Saturday, having suffered a massive heart attack. Mike owns my favorite farmstand on the East End, Babinski’s Farmstand on Newlight Lane in Water Mill. I remember when he started, some 15-20 years ago, he was sitting under an umbrella by the roadside, next to a table full of heirloom tomatoes. And from there, Mike grew the farm year after year, growing it to the large warehouse/farmstand that can be seen on a large expanse of land opposite a horse farm today.
Going to Babinski’s was not just about the fresh produce, the homemade preserves, dips, pies and quiches, and the fresh-off-the-boat seafood and specialty meat, it was about the warm welcome Mike, Cheryl and Tessa always gave each person that crossed their threshold. Mike was always on the move, Cheryl was usually behind the register, and Tessa was either resting or ambling amongst the customers, welcoming any-and-all pats and rubs. They each treated us like good friends, always remembering our faces, one year to the next.
I had the good fortune to work for Mike for the past two years updating the Babinski Farmstand website as needed and creating weekly marketing emails, letting everyone know what was, “Just In” and suggesting how it could be prepared, which was Mike’s idea. I can honestly say this was my all-time favorite job. I could roam the fields early in the morning when the cool nighttime air lingered over the crops and get photos of the various stages of asparagus, tomatoes, and corn growing.
I’d check in with Mike early each week to ask what he wanted to feature that week, and after he told me, he left me on my own and returned to the farm and business he loved. Knowing I was helping not only my favorite farmstand but some of my favorite people would have been rewarding enough for me, but there was icing on the cake for me … I got paid in strawberries, asparagus, corn, peaches, quiche, oysters, fluke, and tuna. My dream job and an experience I will never forget. Thank you, Mike.
As I got to know Mike and Cheryl more, I learned that Mike had been a Southampton Town policeman for 20 years, before starting “a farmstand like my grandfather had”. Rest assured, Babinski’s became a modern-day farmstand and I am sure surpassed his grandfather’s, certainly in size and the diversity of the products sold. Mike was also artistic, which is easily seen in Babinski’s Farmstand logo, which he created – Tessa driving one of the farm tractors.
It is hard for me to imagine a world, but especially a summer season, without Mike. Rested and ready to start a new season in the Spring, much like his fields, Mike exuded optimism and seemingly boundless energy, caring for the field-greens seedlings in the greenhouse before planting them. Every year, customers could see the realization of Mike’s ideas that he'd thought of over the winter. New refrigerator units for the increased supply of specialty cheeses, dips, and DeBragga meats. A cut-away cabinet in the walls with shelves to display Babinski’s homemade honey, preserves and tomato sauce. And we all remember the year, the iced-refrigerator chests were added to offer local fresh seafood. Mike’s energy never seemed to flag much over the very busy summer-season. He truly seemed to love what he did, and he loved sharing it with all of us.
Everyone on the East End, except the summer visitors, looks forward to “Tumbleweed Tuesday”, the day after Labor Day, when the crowds reduce markedly. The pace slows and we all take stock in what was accomplished and what can be done better next year. Mike was always grateful for his customers’ patronage and never took us for granted.
A remarkable man in my view. Mike was a peace-officer, an artist, a farmer, and a businessman. He was also a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend. He had a good sense of humor, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, a warm smile, an incredible work-ethic, and strong love for and devotion to Cheryl and his family. There is a hole in the universe which cannot be filled, but I for one, am so glad he occupied that space and shared himself with us, for as long as he did. He is sorely missed.
Written by Claudia Ward Jan 23, 2023
Great-Granddad Started it All
Victor Babinski arrived in the U.S. from Poland. He settled in Water Mill and began farming the East End's rich soil.
The Farm-Team Grows
Victor and his wife Stella, née Zaluski, run their 20-acre Water Mill Farm, on Mecox Road together for over 30 years while adding 3 more Babinski's to the farm-team.
Granddad starts Farming
Granddad Anthony Babinski a.k.a. Tony takes over the farm with his wife Caroline. Their primary crop was potatoes. Tony also started the Original Roadside Farm Stand
Dad Drafts the Kids
Dad, known as Buddy Babinski, was the first to diversify the farm's crops to include corn, lettuce and tomatoes along with potatoes. Often he would draft my sister Sheila (or Charlene) and me to sell corn-on-the-cob, out of the back of the family station wagon.
The Current Farm & Stand are Born
Hoping to create something like my grandfather's farm stand and after 20 years as a Southampton cop, I started this farm on Newlight Lane, selling heirloom tomatoes on a card table, roadside, sitting under an umbrella.
Over the years, the business and farm have grown. We now offer not just farm produce but also home-baked goods, many cooked on the premises, pantry items like our homemade tomato sauce, and fresh local seafood.
The farming tradition started with my great grandfather has now been passed along six generations as you can often see granddaughter in the fields with me.
Tomatoes are still a staple for the stand and one of our best-sellers. When we get a particularly good crop, we make our own tomato juice - that is if there are any still unsold.
Thanks for helping our family tradition continue.
The farm on Mecox Road that was started by Victor and Stella Babinski, continued with Tony and Caroline, and then was passed along to Buddy and Teresa. I began the farm on Newlight Lane and am frequently helped by my brother, Andrew, and my granddaughter Charlotte. This is definitely a family affair.