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Sotheby's to auction off vegetables

7:40 AM, Sep 27, 2011   |    comments
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Gwen Gajeski's family has been working the Riverhead fields for four generations. Fifteen varieties of tomatoes, corn, cauliflower, onions - these are the gems of their family farm.

Come Tuesday, their produce will be sold at a place usually reserved for a different kind of gem - Sotheby's in New York City.

"It helps. You educate the people, and you teach the people who you are and what you do," Brian Gajeski, a farmer, said.

That's the goal of this special Sotheby's auction - to celebrate "edible heirlooms." Ten crates of produce from farmers around New York will be auctioned for $1,000 each.

The money will go to programs that help sustain current farmers and educate the next generation.

"We like when it goes from a seed all the way to the harvest and the person's table, and they can say this is grown on Long Island," Gwen said.

Like the folks at Sotheby's, the Gajeskis like to highlight the unusual - black cherry tomatoes and purple cauliflower. They hope the auction will help to promote the different kind of products farmers sell every day.

The Gajeskis acknowledge the farming life isn't easy - long days, high costs and lots of uncertainty are the norm. But Sotheby's calls farming an art form that's worth celebrating.

"Plant something grow it and sell it. See the smiles on people's faces when we bring something in," Brian said.

"It's just kind of great to see that and say, 'I wonder how many people will be eating our vegetables tonight?'" Gwen asks.

This the second time Sotheby's has hosted the Art of Farming event. All proceeds benefit organizations that work with the next generation of farmers, healthy food ambassadors and a program that teaches children to eat well.

(Copyright © 2011 NBC Universal, All Rights Reserved)

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