Neighbors Balk at Farm Preservation

image by Randee Daddona via Newsday

Earlier this month, Peconic Land Trust announced that it had received a $400,000 grant from the state to help buy Ships Hole Farm, which has 23 acres in Smithtown along the Nissequogue River.

The land has been tilled since the 1820s, and in 1927 was bought by the Nicodemus family. In 1986 patriarch Richard Nicodemus sold the development rights to 20 acres to Suffolk County. He died in 2005 and the property transferred to a trust in his three children’s names. Since then the family has rented the land to a small number of farmers.

To purchase the entire piece of property–20 acres without development rights and three acres upon with the purchaser can build whatever the zoning allows–PLT must come up with $1.6 million to buy the land, just north of Salt Hay Way. Smithtown was once a farming center and the river allowed for easy transport of goods. Now, however, the land along the river is valuable residential property zoned in one-acre parcels.

What PLT wants to do, says Tim Caufield, the trust’s vice president, is to keep the land in food production, as a part of its Farms for the Future project. Land without development rights does not necessarily have to be farmed; it could house horses or just be a nice big estate. The property’s remaining three acres could be divided into three residential lots, says an employee of the town’s building department.

Peconic Land Trust held an informational meeting at the farmhouse on January 11, which was attended by about 30 neighbors, who expressed concern that a working farm would increase traffic in their suburban neighborhood. The meeting was covered by Newsday.

Here is some history from a webpage named after the farm.


And, below, information from Peconic Land Trust’s press realease about their Farms for the Future program.

Farms for the Future Initiative
The issue of access to affordable farmland by both established and start-up farmers has become of particular concern within the past decade as the value of farmland – even protected farmland – has climbed beyond that which is affordable to most farmers, whether new or established.

Objectives of the Farms for the Future Initiative:
Keep conserved agricultural land actively farmed

Create opportunities for farms to start-up and/or expand their commercial agricultural operations

Promote the diversity of farming and farmers on Long Island

Encourage food production farming

Ensure that farmland is available and affordable for farmers