The Peconic Land Trust has kicked off the new year on a high note on Jan. 10, announcing its purchase of 151 acres of rich farmland within the Oregon Road farm belt in Cutchogue — and the sale of some of that acreage to others who will use it to grow crops.
A release from the land trust said it had closed on the purchase of 151 acres from the Bacon Family Trust and, in turn, had sold two parcels totaling 38.9 acres to qualified farm operations that are part of the its Farms for the Future initiative.
A 26.07-acre parcel at 8500 Alvah’s Lane in Cutchogue was sold to Fred Lee of Sang Lee Farms. An additional 12.83 acres, at 19285 and 19155 County Road 48 in Cutchogue, were sold to Anthony and Lisa Sannino of Sannino Vineyards.
Portions of the remaining 113 acres will be leased out through Requests for Proposals as part of the same program. “The big issue we are trying to deal with is assuring that agriculture continues here by creating the opportunity for new farmers and established farmers to acquire farmland,” said land trust president John v.H. Halsey.
Mr. Halsey noted that soaring land prices — particularly on the South Fork — have made it extraordinarily difficult for existing farmers to acquire more land. North Fork prices are close behind. “There are people buying up land and the availability of land is diminishing,” he said. “Leasing land means you are not in control of your destiny; buying land and owning it takes care of that.”
The Trust, Mr. Halsey added, is “doing as much as we can to acquire land and get it back into the hands of farmers. That’s why this project is such an amazing opportunity, working with the Bacon Trust.”
He added: “It’s important to note that the prime, productive soils along Oregon Road were most likely first cultivated by Indigenous people 1,000 years ago, soon to be followed by the English and other European immigrants. Polish farm families are known to have been farming there since the early 1900s.”
Louis Moore Bacon is the founder of Moore Capital Management, a New York City-based investment firm, and the Moore Charitable Foundation, which has preserved hundreds of thousands of acres in North Carolina, New Mexico and Colorado.
An extremely private person who typically does not give interviews, the Bacon Family Trust owns Robins Island off New Suffolk — sparing it from development — as well as land opposite the island in Southampton. He is, without question, one of the unsung heroes of preserving rich local farmland as well as historic tracts of western lands.
In the land trust’s press release, Mr. Lee hailed the organization for all it has done to preserve and protect agriculture across the East End, saying, “Farmland ownership does not guarantee, but most certainly aids, our resilience in growing food for our community in the challenging industry and landscape of eastern Long Island.”
Anthony Sannino said in an interview that the acquisition will allow Sannino Vineyards to expand and plant more vines.
“We are extremely appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the RFP process, working with the Peconic Land Trust and especially Dan Heston,” he said.
Mr. Heston manages the Farms for the Future Initiative for the Peconic Land Trust.
“As a growing vineyard farm operation in Southold Town, it is essential to expand our vineyard production to secure the success of the next Sanninos,” Mr. Sannino said. “The second generation of Sanninos are becoming actively involved in our farming and production with hopes of continuing its expansion. We hope to see more of these opportunities for the broader farming community to expand and thrive in our town.”
Town Supervisor Al Krupski thanked Mr. Bacon for all he has done for land preservation in Southold. “He preserved that land and made it available to our community,” Mr. Krupski said.
He added that the land trust “is a wonderful partner with the town for farmland. It’s part of their mission.”