AQUEBOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – And then, there was one. Where dozens once flourished, Doug Corwin is the last remaining duck farmer on Long Island.
“Great grandfather started growing ducks on property family had since 1600s back in 1908,” Corwin told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
For more than a century, Crescent Duck Farm in Aquebogue has been producing a million ducks a year. It’s a supplier of choice for some of the finest Michelin-starred chefs.
“Most of the better restaurants here in New York, Boston, Philly all use our duck,” said Corwin. “Which is hurt significantly.”
When the lockdown began and those restaurants shuddered, Corwin began scaling back on his fresh American Pekin duck and eggs. When one of his employees tested positive for COVID-19, he was forced to lay off 80% of his workers.
“I gave up. Stopped producing eggs, stopped production for probably three months,” he said.
He used to sell 3,000 ducks per week. Now it’s down to 25 boxes.
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Most go to Miloski’s in Calverton, where locals come to buy rotisserie duck to-go.
“We need to support our local farmers,” one customer said.
“I think it’s awesome curbside,” said another.
“Supporting local business. I think everyone’s behind that,” another added.
Corwin said he’s adapting.
“Everything historically has just been tossed out the window on everyone’s part,” he said. “There’s a lot of unknown.”
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With gloves and masks on order, he is retrofitting some production areas with Plexiglass, so that when restaurants begin serving duck again, he can recall his employees.
“I hope we can keep it as part of our culinary diversity that we have,” he said. “I feel a responsibility for that and hope we can move forward.”
Corwin and sons – who are Cornell educated – hope to bounce back this summer, survive the pandemic and keep the farm going well into the next century.