Special-needs kids, East End farm dispute sparks criticism

Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk program coordinator Samantha Williams was with a group of developmentally disabled young adults at Wickham's Fruit Farm in Cutchogue last week. She says the owner didn't like that they were touching the produce and smelling the pies and claims the owner said the group was

Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk program coordinator Samantha Williams was with a group of developmentally disabled young adults at Wickham's Fruit Farm in Cutchogue last week. She says the owner didn't like that they were touching the produce and smelling the pies and claims the owner said the group was "bad for business." (10/1/15)

CUTCHOGUE - A dispute between an East End apple farm owner and a group of developmentally disabled young adults has triggered a social media explosion of comments and opinions.

Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk program coordinator Samantha Williams was with a group of developmentally disabled young adults at Wickham's Fruit Farm in Cutchogue last week. She says the owner didn't like that they were touching the produce and smelling the pies and claims the owner said the group was "bad for business."

"No one's ever turned them away or made them feel as uncomfortable as she did," Williams says.

Farm owner Gekee Wickham insists she has nothing against anyone who is developmentally disabled. She claims the group wasn't being properly supervised. She also denied saying that the group was bad for business.

The farm's owner says they have worked with dozens of special-needs schools and groups, and never had a problem until this one.

Wickham's husband has already apologized to the group, and Gekee Wickham says she's willing to do the same.

The controversy has sparked many comments online criticizing both parties.

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