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2004 Convention - Long Island, New York

Tuesday, July 6th to Sunday, July 11th, 2004
Long Island, NY USA

Light Up Your Life!
by Paul Susi,

Stretching 118 miles from the Narrows of New York Harbor in the west to Montauk Point in the east, Long Island (or Lange Eylandt as the early Dutch colonists originally named it) was formed about 12,000 years ago at the end of the last glacial period. When locals talk about "The Island", they are usually referring to Nassau and Suffolk counties which occupy the eastern two-thirds of Long Island. (Brooklyn and Queens, part of New York City, occupy the western third.) The two peninsulas on the eastern end are known as the North and South Forks. The Island is home to some 2.5 million people.

Humans first arrived on the Island somewhere between 16,000 and 11,000 years ago. The Dutch and English started settlements in the early 1600s, and some of the original village names are still in use: Breuckelen (Brooklyn), New Utrecht, Southold and Southampton, among others. (Old Halsey House, on South Main Street in Southampton was built in 1648 and is one of the oldest English-type frame houses in the state.) The residents of the Island were unified under the English flag in 1664. When revolution swept the colonies, two Long Islanders were among the signers of the Declaration of Independence — William Floyd, of Mastic, and Francis Lewis, of Queens.

Whaling and shipbuilding were the major industries during the 18th century, and numerous lighthouses were constructed along the shoreline. There are now 20 working lighthouses on the Island, with names like Stepping Stones, North Dumpling and Execution Rocks. Fifteen of the lighthouses are in Suffolk County, which makes it the county with the most lighthouses in the US. By the end of the 1800s, Long Island farmers started growing potatoes, which were the premier crop for more than a century. Soon ducks and pickles would join potatoes as Long Island's most famous exports. Of the eight million ducks produced nationally, more than six million per year came from Long Island during the late 1940s. Although pollution pressures put many of the duck farms out of business in the 1960s, there are four duck farms left on Long Island today, producing about 2.5 million Pekin ducks annually.

The Island was also a magnet for the very rich. Between 1865 and 1940, about 900 estates — many of them covering more than 150 acres — were constructed on Long Island, most on the north shore of Nassau County, which became known as the Gold Coast. Two that still hold court today are Planting Fields Arboretum and Old Westbury Gardens. During the 1920s and 30s, numerous public parks and the parkways to get to them were constructed by Robert Moses, the "master builder". The major jewel in the crown is Jones Beach, which opened in 1929. It is located on a barrier island along the South Shore, and is considered one of the finest beaches in the world.By the 1950s, Long Island's rate of growth was the highest in the nation. The Levitt brothers, William and Alfred, were instrumental in providing housing for this burgeoning population by pioneering the mass production of affordable housing in the years following World War II.

Today the Island is home to a diverse array of industries — from high tech, to scientific research, to animal disease research. Agriculture still plays an important role in the Island's economy, and more than twenty vineyards are on the North and South Forks, ranking New York second only to California in wine making in the United States. The population is also diverse, with the early suburbanites joined by new residents from South and Central America and all parts of Asia.

We have a fun-filled convention planned, from plants sales, to flower show, to trips and more. Hope to see you on Long Island . . . In July, when you're feeling kind of low
And need something new to grow
Come, join us . . .
And Light Up Your Life
With Gesneriads on Long Island!

Convention 2004 Trips on Long Island

Thursday — Landcraft Environments and Palmer Vineyards

Landcraft Environments is a wholesale nursery that has specialized in tropicals for over ten years . The owners, Dennis Schrader & Bill Smith, have had articles in Fine Gardening, Horticulture and Country Living and have appeared with Martha Stewart. We will spend about an hour touring this tropical wonderland. We will then travel through wine country on the North Fork, where the temperature is moderated by the the Great Peconic Bay to the south and Long Island Sound to the north. Coupled with a long growing season, this geographical location is ideal for grapes. The wine industry on Long Island began in the early 1970s and now produces robust merlots, full-bodied chardonnays, and other European classics. The 1,600 acres of land under cultivation produce over 4,500 tons of grapes in a growing season averaging 225 days a year. There are a total of 28 vineyards on Long Island, with 24 on the North Fork. 

Palmer Vineyards has been in operation for 17 years, and today Palmer wines are sold in 23 states in a network that stretches from Montauk to Florida to California. Palmer wines are also sold in Canada, The United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Holland. We will enjoy a wine-making tour, relax with lunch on the deck overlooking the vineyards, and sample some wine.

Saturday — Paddle Boat Ride from Port Jefferson

The history of Port Jefferson began with the Setauket Indians who, between 1655 and 1687, sold land to the original settlers. Port Jefferson was originally called Suwassett (a Setauket Indian name meaning "land of small pines"), then Drowned Meadow by the early settlers because the area was tidal and was "drowned" by the tide twice a day. In 1836 it was renamed after Thomas Jefferson, and in 1852 the village was designated an American port of entry and a federal customs house was constructed there. 

The Village was the largest shipbuilding center in Suffolk County in the 1800s with four of every ten ships built here. Between 1917 and 1919, the number of shipyard workers mushroomed from 250 to more than 1,100; but when the war ended, shipbuilding was gone for good. After the demise of shipbuilding, Port Jefferson reinvented itself as a vacation spot. The ferries brought visitors and beaches with bathhouses opened around the harbor. Our three-hour ride on the Martha Jefferson will feature a buffet dinner with various appetizer and entrée selections, dessert, coffee and, most importantly, the time to unwind from convention activities. 

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