Our Work

Farms for the Future Initiative

Photo: Jeff Heatley

What is Farms for the Future?

Long Island’s farms and farmers are central to our economy, heritage, and the stewardship of valuable natural resources. Faced with intense development pressures, escalating real estate values, a decline in food production farming, and a lack of affordable farmland for both new and established farmers, the Peconic Land Trust is working to ensure that Long Island’s farms and farming communities remain viable and productive now and in the future. “Farms for the Future” is a special initiative that the board and staff of the Trust have undertaken to explore these challenges in depth and problem-solve using pragmatic approaches. 

How it Works

Since the 1970s, when Suffolk County’s landmark legislation created the first purchase of development rights program in the nation to ensure the future of agriculture on Long Island, about 20,000 of 39,000 acres* of farmland in Suffolk County has been protected from development through the efforts of many, including the County, Towns and private conservation organizations like the Peconic Land Trust.  While we have protected this critical resource from development, we are now painfully aware that these thousands of acres have not been protected for farming.   

Addressing this vexing, unanticipated problem requires multiple solutions by all involved.

In an April 25, 2013 Viewpoint in the Southampton Press, Trust President John v.H. Halsey wrote: "If we as a community we do not change the status quo, we will have very few farmers producing food on the South Fork within a generation. If we want local food and the farmers who produce it to endure, all sectors of our community must work together to make it happen."

The protection of farmland is the highest priority of the Community Preservation Fund, and the continuation of farming, especially the production of fresh, local food, is a defining attribute of our community character.

Since our founding in 1983, the Peconic Land Trust has preserved more working farms on Long Island than any other private conservation organization. Within the last decade, our focus has changed slightly -- land protection remains first and foremost, but protecting the land for food production farming has grown in importance. 

In 2008, the Trust introduced its Farms for the Future Initiative. Through a formalized program, the Trust actively seeks to not only protect the farmland -- particularly that which is threatened by development -- but to also grow the resource. Our initiative's primary objectives are to: 

  1. Explore and refine a new set of conservation tools and techniques that address the issues of farmland accessibility, affordability, and sustainability (see Overlay Easements with Affordable and/or Affirmative Farming Covenants)
  2. Buy, protect, rebuild and resell farms to farmers
  3. Develop and expand our Farmland Leasing Program

It takes many people to ensure that Long Island's future includes productive farms, here are a few of our partners: 

*Source: Suffolk County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan 2015.

Learn more about:

Farmland Leasing Program

As part of our Farms for the Future Initiative the Trust has developed and formalized a Farmland Leasing Program for both new and established farmers.

Agricultural Capital Equipment Grant Program

A new program which will create a financial pool of resources that will assist Nassau and Suffolk County farmers in making capital investments in their farming operations.

Overlay Easements with Farming Covenants

A relatively new tool for the land conservation community that provides additional restrictions on already protected farmland.

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Meet the Staff

Please join our efforts to ensure that local food remains an important part of our Long Island heritage. For more information, and to get involved, contact