Equipment Co-Op Thrives on the North Fork

August 18, 2021
Farms for the Future
New farmers often face the issue of a limited amount of capital and what to prioritize – land, seed, personnel, or equipment? For our incubator farmers at the Trust’s Agricultural Center at Charnews Farm, some of those choices have become simpler. New farmers can choose to join The Lyle Wells Farm Equipment Co-Op.

Named in memory of Lyle Wells, a Riverhead farmer who passed away in 2018, this optional program provides our incubator farmers on the North Fork with access to shared equipment for a $250 annual fee. The variety of professional farming tools include a BCS two-wheel tractor, backpack sprayer, and two seeders. This equipment is designed to work well on the one acre plots that our new farmers start on, but is also big enough to be effective on up to 3 acres. The equipment co-op was started in 2019 to give farmers access to equipment that is right for the initial size of their business, while they can save for larger equipment as they grow in scale.

Rachel Stephens of Sweet Woodland Farm has been an eager user of the equipment co-op. Her favorite piece of equipment is the BCS two-wheel tractor. This machine can perform many of the same functions as a traditional tractor thanks to its various attachments. Rachel has used the BCS to create rows in the fields, till the land, and more. This year, Rachel was able to cut a half-acre of rye in two hours with the sickle bar mower attachment. Last year it took 1 ½ months and two co-workers to do the same job! By having the rye harvested in a timely manner she was able to save money on straw for the fields.


The row shaper attachment creates narrow rows which are especially good for the sunflowers and Glass Gem Corn grown by Sweet Woodland Farm.

This year, thanks to the generosity of two anonymous donors, the equipment co-op is expanding! The Trust will use these donations to purchase new equipment on the North Fork, and to start a co-op program on the South Fork for our incubator farmers at the Deborah Ann Light Preserve in Amagansett. The South Fork will be receiving starter equipment including their own BCS two-wheel tractor while the North Fork will receive, amongst other equipment, a rotary spreader and drop spreader. We’re also working on a farmer grant program to assist our incubator farmers with grant funds for equipment purchase or repair. These one-time funds will be available through an application process, and will act as a complement to the equipment co-op program. Stay tuned for more information in the weeks ahead!

For more information about The Lyle Wells Farm Equipment Co-Op, contact Dan Heston, Director of Agricultural Programs or Jessie McSwane-Marcus, Stewardship Manager.

You can find out more about Sweet Woodland Farm on their website and visit them at the Hampton Bays, Southampton, and Westhampton Farmers Markets.

Support the Peconic Land Trust
Peconic Land Trust needs your support to protect the working farms, natural lands, and heritage of Long Island.