Amy Hepworth: bigger than Jesus in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood.
Well, maybe, maybe not. But certainly bigger than the Beatles: In “The Farmer as Cult Hero,” New York magazine profiles the Poughkeepsie-area farmer who supplies the Park Slope Food Coop with a staggering 111 varieties of vegetables and 53 kinds of fruit. Susan Burton opens her story with a splendid portrait of Hepworth, “her pet dog, her same-sex partner, and two bags of wormy apples beside her,” before an ecstatic crowd at the co-op’s “Meet Your Farmer” night:
Too feisty to give a lecture, Hepworth bounced around and mimed various elements of her work (mowing, spraying, bolting out of bed at dawn); she gnawed on a wild, untreated apple and identified the pests she was swallowing (‘That’s codling moth’).
The co-op is Hepworth’s biggest customer, accounting for 80 percent of her vegetable sales. It’s also crazy for her: The manager describes Hepworth as “an idol” for some customers. Nevertheless, there’s been some criticism: Hepworth’s vegetables are certified organic but her fruits aren’t; she says she’d rather use a small quantity of certain synthetic pesticides than a massive amount of organic ones like sulfur.
Customers have reacted to this in very Park Slope Food Coop fashion: “Last winter, for example, a member wrote a three-part series called ‘In Defense of an Apple’ in response to a critical letter about Hepworth’s growing practices that appeared in the Linewaiters’ Gazette, the store’s biweekly newspaper.”