Program in memory of Lyle Wells to benefit start-up farmers

The Peconic Land Trust has rolled out its new Lyle Wells Farm Equipment Co-op, a program developed to meet some of the equipment needs and capital challenges faced by start-up farmers in the incubator programs at the Agricultural Center at Charnews Farm and Farms for the Future Initiative.

The program was made possible by a donation from the LSW Foundation in memory of Lyle Wells, a passionate Riverhead farmer who died in 2018. Mr. Wells was a former president of the Long Island Farm Bureau.

“The program is an idea we’ve kind of kicked back and forth for a little while, and with our incubator program it seemed like a natural addition,” said Brendan Minogue, land steward at Peconic Land Trust. “A lot of the new farmers in that program will ask about renting equipment or if there are tools to use. When we got the donation, which came in last year, it kind of lined up and it was the perfect opportunity to get started.”

The tools will be shared among the participants of the North Fork incubator program for a fee of $250 per year, giving farmers access to equipment that is right for the initial size of their business while enabling them to save for larger equipment as they grow in scale, Mr. Minogue said.

“It’s smaller sized equipment, but good quality,” Mr. Minogue said. “It’s sized for 1 acre, what farmers start with in the program. It’s based around that size operation so that they can save money down the road to get larger equipment as they expand.”

The Peconic Land Trust purchased a BCS two-wheel tractor, with a rototiller and flail mower attachments, a four-gallon backpack sprayer, and broadcast spreader for use in the co-op, Mr. Minogue said.

The Lyle Wells Farm Equipment Co-op is another step in the direction of achieving the Farms for the Future program’s aim at ensuring that Long Island’s farms and farming communities remain viable and productive, Mr. Minogue said.

“The goal is to get people interested in starting farm businesses,” he said, “so hopefully it’ll make it easier for them to work toward having their own farm so that we actually have enough people to farm all the preserved farmland that we have out here.”

For more information about The Lyle Wells Farm Equipment Co-op, contact Dan Heston at 631-734-5630 or Jessie Marcus at 631-283-3195.