Farms for the Future Initiative
Join Us In Protecting Farmland For Farmers!
Why this matters:
Since the 1970s, when Suffolk County’s landmark legislation created the first purchase of development rights program in the nation to ensure the future of agriculture on Long Island, over 12,000 acres of farmland have been protected from development through the efforts of many, including the Town of Southampton and private conservation organizations like the Peconic Land Trust. While we have protected this critical resource from development, we are now painfully aware that these thousands of acres have not been protected for farming, especially in Southampton.
Addressing this vexing, unanticipated problem requires multiple solutions by Suffolk County, Southampton Town, and organizations like the Peconic Land Trust and the South Fork Land Foundation.
In an April 25, 2013 Viewpoint in the Southampton Press, Trust President John v.H. Halsey wrote: "If we as a community we do not change the status quo, we will have very few farmers producing food on the South Fork within a generation. If we want local food and the farmers who produce it to endure, all sectors of our community must work together to make it happen." (To read the full Viewpoint, click here.)
The protection of farmland is the highest priority of the Community Preservation Fund, and the continuation of farming, especially the production of fresh, local food, is a defining attribute of our community character.
Since our founding in 1983, the Peconic Land Trust has preserved more working farms on Long Island than any other private conservation organization. Within the last decade, our focus has changed slightly -- land protection remains first and foremost, but protecting the land for food production farming has grown in importance.
In 2008, the Trust introduced its Farms for the Future Initiative. Through a formalized program, the Trust actively seeks to not only protect the farmland -- particularly that which is threatened by development -- but to also grow the resource. Our initiative's primary objectives are to:
I. Explore and refine a new set of conservation tools and techniques that address the issues of farmland accessibility, affordability, and sustainability (see Overlay Easements with Affordable and/or Affirmative Farming Covenants)
II. Buy, protect, rebuild and resell farms to farmers
III. Develop and expand our Farmland Leasing Program
Please join our efforts to ensure that local food remains an important part of our Long Island heritage. For more information, and to get involved, contact Dan Heston at 631.283.3195. To receive updates on our conservation efforts, please join our mailing list.
The Peconic Land Trust leases farmland to farmers on both the North and South Forks of Long Island, predominately at the Deborah Light Preserve, Town Lane Preserve and the Agricultural Center at Charnews Farm (the Centers) -- including Balsam Farms, Amber Waves Farm, Sang Lee. The following are a few examples of food production farmers we've worked with, in addition to the farmers currently operating at one of our Centers:
- Pike Farms: In 2010 the Trust acquired 7 acres of productive farmland from the Hopping family on Sagg Main Road in Sagaponack, with the express intent of reselling the land to Jim and Jennifer Pike, who had cultivated the land and ran their successful farmstand business. The Trust acquired the property, sold the development rights to the Town of Southampton and Suffolk County. The land, with a protected value of $223,600/acre was beyond the reach of the Pike's; the Trust further resticted the land with an overlay easement, reducing the price per acre to $22,000. Click here for the press release.
- 8 Hands Farm: In 2011, the Trust sold the former Cox Lane Farm to Carol Festa and Tom Geppel for what has now become 8 Hands Farm -- a family farm operation raising Icelandic sheep. Click here for the press release.
- Browder's Birds: In 2010, the Trust leased a few acres and a portion of the barn to Chris and Holly Browder who were starting a pastured poultry farm operation at the Ag Center. In 2012, the Browder's acquired 13 acres of protected farmland owned by the Trust in Cutchogue and have moved their poultry operation to their own home farm. Click here for the press release.
It takes many people to ensure that Long Island's furture includes productive farms, here are a few of our partners:
- Long Island Farm Bureau
- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County
- Cornell University's Long Island Horitcultural Research & Extension Center
- Long Island Wine Council
- Edible East End
- Suffolk County Planning Commission
- Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning
- Nassau Land Trust/Crossroads Farm
- American Farmland Trust, New York
- Land Trust Alliance