September 06, 2006
Graboski Toasts Farming Tradition
For Southampton Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, having the chance to speak at a Community Supper held at the Hampton Classic Show grounds last Thursday to commemorate Bridgehampton's 350th anniversary, wasn't just another event on the calendar of a busy elected official. Instead, it was a journey of the heart for a woman who embraces her family's farming legacy.
The event, which was attended by over 400 guests, held all the trappings of a fancy Hamptons affair, complete with a live band and corporate sponsors. But, said Graboski, beyond the tent were the wide-open potato fields, the sunset coloring an expanse of sky. And those are things that define Bridgehampton for the councilwoman.
A Bridgehampton resident for 40 years, Graboski's roots run deep in farmland soil. And the event, held in the middle of what was once John McNamara's potato farm, tied past with present as residents celebrated 350 years of tradition.
"The landscape has changed," said Graboski. "Technology has changed. People have come and gone. But there are some things that haven't changed."
The land and the sea, said the councilwoman, brought the first settlers to Bridgehampton and continue to bring new residents today. Fresh vegetables and fruits, love of the lush soil — those are the things that matter. "Over the years, people will come and go from this place but the land and sea will remain," she said. "As part of that tradition and connection to the land, we find common threads that run from generations before us all the way to today, in that annual ritual, spring planting."
In her own family, said Graboski, farming traditions pass from generation to generation; the councilwoman read a poem, "The Soil Is Calling," written by her son, Teddy, when he was 16.
The event, organized by Gail Maran Brockett and Maureen Maran Wikane, as well as the Bridgehampton Historical Society, was a celebration of tradition.
And in embracing the area's legacy it is imperative to place preservation at the forefront. "Nothing stays the same," said Graboski. "We're growing." With a burgeoning population, Graboski said the emphasis has to be on preservation, and credits the Community Preservation Fund for allowing Southampton Town to purchase parcels for posterity.
The evening, said Graboski later, was one attendees would remember forever. And, she added, her speech reflected not an elected official, but a longtime community member who was honored to be able to share her love of the land with fellow residents over a shared supper: "I want my epitaph to read that, first and foremost, I was a farmer's wife and mother," she said.