From 40 … to Forever | 8 Hands Farm

September 19, 2023
Farms for the Future

Icelandic sheep, cage-free heritage chickens, cattle, and Tamworth pigs might not be what you typically think of when it comes to Long Island agriculture. At 8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue, you’ll find these animals and more.

In the Spring of 2007, the Trust purchased the Cox Lane farmstead from Joe Macari, Sr. and simultaneously sold the development rights on 25 acres to the Town of Southold. The Geppel family had been leasing land in the area before the farm came up for sale through the Trust’s Farms for the Future Initiative. In 2011, the Geppel family purchased the farm from the Trust and worked closely with Dan Heston, the Trust’s Director of Agricultural Programs, to transform the land into a thriving local food operation. Along with fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, grass-fed meat, and charcuterie, their on-site farmstand offers luxurious handmade yarn and other fiber products.


Earlier this month, we met owners Tom Geppel and Carol Festa to learn about the challenges and rewards of working the land while taking a walk through the pastures to the barn to meet some of their animals. Hearing about the evolution of their farm from Tom, it was apparent the family is fully committed to providing locally grown and sustainably raised food to the community. Tom shared details on the techniques he uses that ensure the land and soil are well managed. He does not use fertilizer or pesticides but relies on the natural resources of composted manure and planting various grasses to recharge the soil. Their herds of sheep, cows, and chickens are regularly moved from pasture to pasture so that they are grazing on fresh grass without over-using one area. This results in healthy animals and healthy food. It was clear from Tom’s comments that farmers face many costs and regulatory challenges from the Federal down to the local government levels, all of which require a strong commitment to clean, healthy food for you. When you visit your favorite farmstand, be sure to thank your farmer for their dedication to farming which provides you with delicious locally grown and produced food!

We thank Tom, Carol, and the staff at 8 Hands Farm for sharing their story as part of our “40 for 40” program calendar! This tour was part of the Peconic Land Trust’s 40th-anniversary celebration, with a year-long focus on bringing you to 40 special places whose conservation has had an impact on our communities. We hope you’ve enjoyed some special experiences with us this year.

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