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Local Farmers, Jim And Jennifer Pike, Purchase 13.9 Acres Of Prime Agricultural Farmland

Sydney A. Braat

Jim and Jennifer Pike with Peconic Land Trust Director of Conservation Planning Melanie Cirillo, President John v.H. Halsey, and Senior Project Manager Kimberly Quarty (Courtesy Photo)

On Thursday, October 27th, Peconic Land Trust completed the sale of 13.9 acres of prime agricultural land in Water Mill, which was bought by Jim and Jennifer Pike of Pike Farms

The Trust acquired 33 acres of farmland from the estate of Charlotte Danilevsky in July 2014 in a conservation effort with the Town of Southampton. The farmland was in two parcels - 19.2 acres along Head of Pond Road and 13.9 acres off of Uncle Leo's Lane. The Town of Southampton purchased development rights from the Trust, including restrictions that ensure that the land will be actively farmed, primarily in food production. The Head of Pond parcel was sold to farmer Hank Kraszewski, III, in January 2015. The sale of the Uncle Leo's Lane parcel completes the goal of transferring all the land to active and local farmers.

"We are excited to convey this productive farmland to Jim and Jennifer Pike thereby completing the Danilevsky project," said John v.H. Halsey, President of the Peconic Land Trust. "The Pikes have been farming on the South Fork for many years, and are now more in control of their destiny through this purchase. The addition of enhanced restrictions on this farmland by Southampton Town has ensured that it is affordable and accessible to farmers who grow food for generations to come. All of us at the Trust are proud to have been the catalyst for this new, critically-important tool that ensures that protected farmland is farmed. This would not have been possible without the assistance of the local agricultural community and the Town as well as those who support the work of the Trust."

Jim and Jennifer Pike's farm is about 50 acres located around Sagaponack. They are owners of the iconic farmstand on Sagg Main Road, which is located on the first parcel in Southampton Town that was protected by enhanced restrictions when they purchased the 7.6 acres from the Trust in 2011. Until that purchase, the Pikes only owned 6 acres of the land that they farmed from and the balance was all leased. Today, the Pikes own a total of 27 acres of land and they are most famous for their production of sweet corn and tomatoes, as well as over 30 kinds of vegetables, flowers, and fruit.

"We are very pleased to have worked with the Town and the Land Trust on the sale of our enhanced development rights and the purchase of the Uncle Leo's Lane parcel," said Jim Pike."It is sad for us to see preserved farmland used for anything other than 'real' agriculture and we hope that this tool helps keep land available to future farmers."

Uncle Leo's Lane in October. (Courtesy Photo)

In recent years, sales of protected farmland on Long Island's South Fork to non-farmers has been as high as $300,000 per acre, raising the average value of protected farmland to over $100,000 per acre. These values are beyond the reach of most farmers in the area, making the land unaccessible to the individuals who truly know how to take care of the land and use it for its intended purposes.

"Working with the Land Trust to develop the enhanced easement program in the Town of Southampton has been a rewarding experience as agriculture is such an important piece of Southampton's history and culture, its viability for generations to come is crucial to our identity," said Councilwoman Christine Scalera. "I couldn't be prouder of the success of this program and the partnership between the Trust and the Town."

Through the use of Affirmative & Affordable Farming Covenants and Resale Restrictions, the value of the protected farmland is lowered to its "true agricultural value" for food production.

There are several restrictions, including that 80 percent of the farmland must be used for the production of food, land may not be used for equestrian or vineyard purposes, horticultural specialties that result in the removal of soil from the property is prohibited, and other preventative measures.

The Peconic Land Trust's Farms for the Future Initiative aims to keep conserved agriculture land actively farmed, create opportunities for farmers to start-up or expand their agricultural operations, promote the diversity of farming and farmers on Long Island, encourage food production farming, and ensure that farmland is available and affordable to farmers.

The Peconic Land Trust was founded in 1983 and conserves Long Island's working farms, natural lands, and heritage. Since its beginning, the Trust has conserved approximately 12,000 acres of land on Long Island.

"Traditional food farming is being squeezed off of prime agricultural soils in favor of higher paying uses such as horse farms and estate lawns. The Towns' participation shifts the economic equation once again in favor of food crops, such as corn and potatoes, grown by local farmers," said Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

The Peconic Land Trust is located at 296 Hampton Road in Southampton. For more information, call 631-283-3195 or visit www.peconiclandtrust.org.

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