The owner of a well-loved North Fork family farmstand has turned to the internet in a desperate plea to save her business.
Cheryl Pelis, owner of Cheryl’s Farm Stand, which has been selling bountiful fresh produce for 30 years, has enlisted the help of Go Fund Me, an internet fundraising site, to help save the farmstand that has seen many harvests, and which is deeply rooted in her family's history.
In four days, she has raised $675 of the $299,000 she needs to buy the land on which her farmstand and family home are sited.
In addition, a fundraiser will be held at Cheryl's Farm Stand on Oct. 20, from noon to 4 p.m., as Bach Grazina East End Orthodontics presents a "Fall Festival and Family Picture Day," with a free pumpkin for each family, a pumpkin decorating station, face painting, family fun activities including corn hole and potato sack races, and family photos by Caroline Rocchetta. Admission is free.
"I have operated Cheryl’s Farm Stand since I was about eight years old," Pelis wrote. "I remember being so little that I had a hard time heading across the fields at 6 a.m. to help my dad pick strawberries. I’m older now, let’s say a lot older, and nothing brings me more joy than farming the land that has been in my family for over 200 years."
The Farm Stand, Pelis said, is set on what was once a 30-acre parcel.
'Today, there is so little land left and what land there is, is being torn away from me, day by day," she wrote. "There is one acre left, the acre that Cheryl’s Farm Stand so proudly sits on. However, since my dad passed away last November that one acre of land, which houses the home that my father and mother have shared, is now up for sale. If this house is sold, my farm stand will go with it."
It is Pelis' most fervent wish to keep her farmstand in the family.
"We had a wonderful upbringing throughout the many generations." she wrote. "I want to keep our family tradition going and continue to continue to farm. I now have grandchildren and my older granddaughter likes nothing more than to help Grandma on the farm, to ride with her daddy, my son, on the tractor."
In addition, Pelis has hopes that a new three-month-old grandson, will one day sing the praises of the farm.
"I honestly don’t know what I will do without my farmstand, my little piece of heaven, a place where I was raised, where I raised my children and now where my grandchildren come to play," she wrote.
The farmstand, she added, symbolizes years of hard work and an abiding love for the community.
"I’ve given my blood, sweat, tears to maintain the operation and a whole bunch of smiles to its' customers," Pelis wrote. "I love to see the look of wonder on someone’s face when I tell them not to worry about paying. If someone doesn’t have the money for veggies I tell them if and when they have it, they can pay me. If not, then it’s my gift. This makes my heart full, I love to give. When I have, I share, it’s quite simple."
She added, "I have never asked for help in my life, but I do need help now."
Her goal, Pelis said, is to buy the property now for sale, which includes the farmland, her family’s home, and her "beloved farmstand."
Pelis promised that if she raises the $299,000, she will work tirelessly to help others, donating to food banks and others in need.