Virtually gardening: Green thumbs pivot their community online

As Jennifer Carlson logged into her computer on a sunny morning in January, she was itching to do some gardening — or at the least, learn about gardening and commune with like-minded folks. But, like so many events from pre-COVID times, such in-person lectures and meetings were out of reach.

Carlson, 47, a professional assistant in the biology department at Suffolk County Community College, remembered the palpable energy at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s annual Spring Gardening School, long held at Riverhead Middle School. She attended twice, and as a master gardener, volunteered to chair the raffle committee. “There are so many people that are passionate about gardening on Long Island and have so many areas of expertise,” she said. “It was exciting to spend time with them.”

At the in-person events, Carlson perused educational exhibits and plant clinics, browsed the plant sale and ate a boxed lunch in the school’s cafeteria while enjoying camaraderie with friends, new and old. “A big highlight was the Koppert Cress demonstration,” she said, recalling the tasting table set up by the Dutch-inspired grower of naturally aromatic microgreens with greenhouses in Riverhead and Cutchogue. “They had one that made you salivate,

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Pandemic Pivot: Vending and catering company launches ghost kitchen

Torpedoes Sub Shop is slated to be the latest of several restaurant concepts Trolley Eats will offer when the sub shop goes live in mid-January. The ghost kitchen, which launched in December, plans to add more concepts to its lineup in the future. (Images courtesy of Trolley Eats)

As all three wings of its business have been getting shellacked by the coronavirus pandemic, a local vending company is looking to the ghost kitchen concept to ride out the storm.

Trolley House Refreshments, which provides breakroom and vending refreshments for workplaces, launched Trolley Eats in mid-December. Trolley Eats operates a handful of restaurant concepts without a physical dining space, a relatively new culinary concept known as a ghost kitchen. The model relies strictly on delivery service, and it has become increasingly popular in the Richmond area in recent months.

Trolley House owners Scott Halloran and Michael Calkins hit on the ghost kitchen idea to create a new revenue stream tailor-made for times that are less friendly to their other ventures. Trolley House also owns and operates catering company Groovin’ Gourmets and Parterre Restaurant at The Linden Row Inn downtown.

“We’re kind of in the bull’s eye of COVID across

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