Celic Family Remembers “Pop” Celic and “The Farm”

April 26, 2022

The woodlands, wetlands, meadows and tributaries of Broad Cove, the 100 acres of natural lands located within the Peconic Bay Estuary in Aquebogue has a rich history in the East End’s agricultural fabric – Long Island duck farms. Founded in the 1930s, Broad Cove Farm was one of more than 90 duck farms on Long Island at the peak of duck farming in the 1950s.

From the late 1930s until the late 1970s, Broad Cove Duck Farm founder, Joseph P. Celic, Sr., was a leader in the region. His most notable role was organizing the Riverhead Duck Processing Cooperative in the mid-1950s.


Joseph P. Celic, Sr. and Governor Nelson Rockefeller

Recently, we connected with the family of Mr. Celic – his daughter Betty Celic Holden, and her children Susan Holden and Rich Holden. They reached out to us when they heard about the purchase. They’re so happy to see a conservation future for “the farm” as it is called by the family. They know that “Pop” would be pleased.

“My dad was a prolific reader and self-taught having only gone to school through the 8th grade. The son of Polish immigrants, he was a leader in the community. He was able to get the independent duck farmers together to create the Cooperative and to have the cooperative processing plant (on Elton Avenue in Riverhead). This benefited all the farmers, who were able to earn a good dollar for the sale of their ducks,” reflects Mrs. Holden.

The business of duck farming on Long Island is known for its struggles, with issues related to environment, disease and pests, and competition. But it is also known for creating a food industry, providing jobs and significant economic benefit to the region.

“I have so many memories of my grandfather driving around the farm or on his fishing boat, the Ho-Hum,” said Rich. “It really is a beautiful waterfront place, and I see this as a perfect setting for birdwatching especially during the spring and fall migrations.”

“Our family is so delighted that the Peconic Land Trust has saved this very special piece of waterfront property from development,” said Susan Holden, who now also lives in Orient. “We look forward to supporting its restoration and supplying the Trust with historical information of its time as one of the largest producers of famous Long Island duckling.”


Vera, Betty & Joseph P. Celic, Sr.

We are so thankful to Betty and her children Rich and Susan for reaching out to us – and pleased to be able to work with the community to make this special place on Flanders Bay a treasure for future generations.

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