A Letter of Thanks From Staff Member Dan Heston

August 19, 2020

By Dan Heston

Farms for the Future

I’m writing to you from one of our beautiful North Fork farm fields protected by the Trust. Over the last few months, I’ve come to appreciate these fields more than ever. As I’ve watched others shutter businesses and shelter in place, I’ve been grateful to have the farm work. It never ends. And, in its own way, it helps me keep this crazy world in perspective.

Regardless of viruses, politics, and racial injustice – the seasons roll on. The plants need pruning, the machinery needs servicing, the irrigation and wells need to be maintained, the fields must be prepped on time and the seeds planted. It is both exhausting and grounding. Some days it’s the ultimate blessing and some days a curse.

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that having local food available and accessible to everyone is vitally important. Conserving farmland and growing a new generation of farmers to do the hard work is necessary.

Your loyal support of the Trust is what makes our work possible. How can your gift to the Trust ensure that fresh local food is available? Your gift will be used immediately to:

  • Provide fresh, locally grown food to three different food pantries.
  • Conserve both farmland that grows food and natural lands that keep our waterways clean and productive for fishing and shellfish.
  • Promote soil health and sustainable practices that help us address climate change and protect our ecology.
  • Provide mentoring, infrastructure, and education to 28 new and continuing farmers through the Farms for the Future Initiative.

Now more important than ever, locally grown produce and farm products provide nourishment and healthy, delicious options close to home. Long Island’s farms are central to our economy, heritage, and the health of our natural resources. Farming was Long Island’s first industry and today it still employs more than 10,000 people.

I grew up farming, hunting, and fishing in the Maryland countryside. My first job was bagging corn at 6 years old. Today my wife and I work our own family farm in addition to my role as the Trust’s Director of Agricultural Programs. Farming has been a passion all my life.

Your loyal support enables me to pass on my knowledge to others getting started in farming. Through your gifts, the Trust’s Farms for the Future Initiative provides new farmers with access to affordable land leases, deer fencing, wells, technical assistance, shared equipment, and safety training. To a new farmer each of these items comes hard. I know, I’ve been there (and sometimes still am).

A lot has changed since I was a child. The world’s population has doubled since then. Farming and preservation have never been more important. Agriculture, in all its forms, helps to connect each of us to our surrounding environment. Awakening a child, or reawakening an adult, to the sounds, smells, and sights of the soil and the bounty it produces, helps to ensure that this love will be passed on to future generations.

I’ve spent many hours working in the fields and maybe as many learning the business end of farming. I’m still learning. Every day is different. Every day is new. But some lessons stick with you. One truth I’ve gleaned over the years is that the preservation of our farmland is key to a healthy, happy tomorrow.

Thank you so much for joining with us to ensure that farming stays on Long Island. Your unwavering support of what we do is what makes this possible.

Best wishes,

Dan Heston

Director of Agricultural Programs

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