Photo of the Week

July 15 – July 21, 2023


“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck 

Farm to Family: The Long Island Home Hamper, 1908. (Image from the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County HIstorical Society. All rights reserved.)

To market seasonal produce grown in the early 1900s at the Long Island Rail Road experimental farms in Medford and Wading River, Hal and Edith Fullerton devised an early form of the modern CSA called the Long Island Home Hamper. The Home Hamper was a specially designed crate containing baskets of fresh produce. The crates were packed at the farms with freshly picked seasonal vegetables and fruits – from radishes, crisp lettuce, melting peas, and stringless beans to sweet corn and cauliflower. Home Hampers were shipped by the railroad directly to consumers in New York City. Measuring 24 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 10 inches deep, the Home Hamper was delivered weekly and contained about 30 pounds of fresh produce.


The Home Hamper eliminated the intervention of a merchant in the sales and distribution process and made fresh produce more affordable for middle-class urban residents. Fullerton promoted the Home Hamper as an innovation of national significance, a key to creating a new system for providing fresh, healthy food to city dwellers across the country. Despite promising experimental beginnings at the Wading River and Medford farms, however, the Home Hamper was not widely adopted by Long Island farmers at the time.



Copyright © 2023 Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.


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