By Janee Law
Nick Voulgaris III remembers Kerber’s Farm always being part of his childhood. He said that, as a child, his mother would take him there when she bought chicken. Then, as a teenager when he got his learner’s permit, he’d run errands to the farm for her.
“This place was always in my upbringing,” Voulgaris, 41, who grew up in Halesite, said. “When it was abandoned and I heard that it was going to be developed into a cul-de-sac or condominiums I said, ‘I can’t let that happen.’”
Voulgaris bought the property, located at 309 West Pulaski Road in Huntington, in 2013 to save it from being transformed and has been building it back up ever since.
“A lot of people grew up with it so the idea that it was going to be lost forever I think evoked a lot of emotion in people… I get a lot of personal letters from strangers thanking me for saving this place,” Voulgaris said “This literally is an oasis in Huntington… this little pocket that has been preserved, which is really exciting to have it here.”
With his passion for food and restoration, Voulgaris said it was only fitting for him to buy the property and revitalize the farm, while continue and enhance the tradition.
Established in 1941 by the Kerber family, the farm was sold to another family, Macinasian family, in the ‘80s. It was in 2008, and stayed that way for five years.
“Changing the name was never a thought because there is such heritage here, and legacy and history,” Voulgaris, who now lives in Manhattan, said.
“To have something that’s been around since the 1940s and for generations to grow with it and to have it,” in 2016, he said, “I think is a real gift.”
With a six-month renovation on the store, Voulgaris relaunched the brand of products that the family used to make in the ’40s. During that time, Kerber’s was a poultry farm where chickens, ducks and turkeys were raised, and pies and jams were sold.
Voulgaris currently raises chickens strictly for their eggs, and honey bees for fresh honey. The farm also has an organic vegetable garden that grows tomatoes, kale, string beans, eggplant, strawberries, green peppers and herbs like basil, rosemary and dill.
The farm also grows fresh cut wildflowers, including Zinnias and sunflowers, which act as a food source for the honeybees.
“We have this really cool sort of ecosystem here where the honey bees help pollinate the garden and the vegetables,” Voulgaris said. “So the vegetables are sold in our farmstand here during the summer and any scraps in the garden go to feed the chickens, and then the chickens give us organic eggs, which we use in the kitchen.”
Other popular items at the farm include pies and baked goods, biscuit egg sandwiches, chicken pot pies, shepherd's pies and summertime lobster rolls. At $12 a jar, Kerber’s jams are a top seller, especially the inventive Kerberry flavor.
“I developed this recipe and experimented with it for months until it came out just right,” Voulgaris said. “It’s essentially a mixed berry fruit jam and what’s really great about this is it’s strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and then I put in a little fresh orange zest and a little clove, which gives it a nice after bite.”
Voulgaris said the jam has been “super popular,” so much so that it will be featured in the March issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.
Customers can also make their own Kerberry pie. The farm sells pie kits for $65 a crate. The kits come with crust mix, pie filling, whether it’s Kerberry, apple, or strawberry-rhubarb, Pyrex glass pie plate, a kitchen towel and instructions for baking.
Voulgaris has been selling his products nationwide. “It’s awesome,” he said.
“To take a business that was essentially closed and the building was derelict and to build it up, restore everything, get the store running really well and now to be able to grow the brand nationally is incredibly rewarding,” he said.
Although he is continuing to restore the property, which is approximately 100,000 square feet and holds seven or eight buildings, Voulgaris hopes to expand. He said he wants to have more chickens, and more honey production.
Additionally, Voulgaris said he is interested in building a farming educational school.
“I love coming to work because every day is something different,” he said.
309 West Pulaski Road