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Pike Farmstand: Community Conservation at Work

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Conservation News
November 1, 2016

By Yvette DeBow-Salsedo

Jim and Jennifer Pike have farmed on Long Island since the 1980s and by the mid-2000s they were farming 60 acres in the Town of Southampton – yet only owning five of those acres. More importantly, their popular farmstand business was on land they leased and was in the process of being sold.

With a value beyond the reach of a farmer — at that time, land with all its development rights intact could be sold for upwards of $1 million/ acre and protected farmland for as high as $100,000/acre — the Pikes saw no real solution in sight but had the support of the community and the Peconic Land Trust.

Over the summers of 2007 and 2008, more than 3,000 East End residents and visitors signed a petition to “Save the Farm Stand.” The economic downturn of the mid-2000s complicated everything, but on balance became a saving grace for efforts to protect the land, when the farmland owners agreed to reduce the sales price.

The Trust was then able to purchase the farmland with over $1 million raised from the community and a simultaneous sale of development rights to the Town and the County.  

Unfortunately, the value of the protected land was still beyond the reach of the Pikes. Due to the funds raised from the community, the Trust was able to reduce the per acre value of the land to a price the Pikes could afford by further restricting the farmland. 

These additional restrictions required that 60 percent of the farmland be used for food production with an affirmative farming covenant, a cap on appreciation, and resale to qualified farmers in the future. 

In November 2016, the Pikes continued to grow their farm operation with the help of the Trust, acquiring 13.9 acres at the end of Uncle Leo’s Lane (off Noyac Path) in Water Mill — formerly part of the 33-acre Danilevsky farmland the Trust acquired and protected with the Town of Southampton in 2015. 

“We are very pleased to have worked with the Town and the Land Trust on the purchase of the Uncle Leo’s Lane parcel.  It is sad for us to see preserved farmland used for anything other than “real” agriculture and we hope that this tool helps keep land available to future farmers,” said Jim Pike.

Today, the Pikes continue to provide their community with fresh vegetables and remain an important part of the Sagaponack community –- and innovative restrictions developed by the Trust, now also used by the Town of Southampton, have been added to over 200 acres of farmland, with more to come. 

Melanie Cirillo with Jennifer and Jim Pike in Water Mill