Edwards Farm Conservation Project
The Peconic Land Trust, in partnership with the Town of Southold and members of the community, began working in early 2015 to acquire and permanently protect two iconic farm properties in Orient, together comprising 38.5 acres in order to keep them in agricultural production and to provide an opportunity for the next generation of farmers.
Located on the south side of Main Road, immediately west of Latham Sand and Gravel, the properties are the 20.9 acre Edwards Farm and the adjacent 17.6 acre farm. We are happy to add that in August 2015, the Edwards family sold their farm to the Trust for the appraised value of $1,900,000; with the Town of Southold purchasing the development rights on the property for $700,000. With the Town's support, the Farm's 20.9 acres of farmland, woodland and wetlands, and expansive viewshed overlooking Little Bay, are now perpetually protected and join a 600-plus-acre assemblage of protected land between Narrow River Road and the Cross Sound Ferry Terminal.
Faced with a $390,000 deficit, plus our costs to complete the deal and begin restoring the Farm, last summer the Trust embarked on a three-year, $450,000 fundraising campaign. By the end of 2015, through the efforts of many, we raised $83,750 with gifts ranging from several hundred dollars to as much as $30,000.
Although we still have a ways to go, we remain confident that we will raise the necessary funds to achieve our goals and are well underway for a productive 2016.
Here's what's also in the works:
USDA-NRCS Wetland Reserve Easement Program and Salt-Marsh Restoration Plan
On January 15th, we applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) and their Wetland Reserve Easement Program. The goal of this Program is to restore, protect and enhance wetlands in order to optimize wildlife habitat, increase coastal resiliency, and mitigate flooding.
The current plan prepared by USDA-NRCS calls for the installation of a new, state-of-the-art self-regulating tide gate, excavation of a series of small ponds to provide shallow water habitat for waterfowl, shore birds and marsh sparrows, as well as invasive species removal (click here for larger view of map). With the installation of the tide gate, we will be able to reintroduce tidal flow to the wetlands and restore the salt marsh. This will help control the spread of invasive species like phragmites, diversify and increase the Farm’s habitat areas, and help protect the Farm and surrounding properties from the effects of sea level rise and large storm events.
If accepted into the Wetland Reserve Easement Program, USDA-NRCS would purchase an overlay conservation easement on the wetland portions of the Edwards Farm and the adjacent Terry Farm Preserve plus cover the costs of the above mentioned restoration. With their support, we could potentially receive as much as $200,000 towards our fundraising effort.
- To acquire and protect the Edwards Farm and the adjacent 17.6-acre farm ~ together comprising 38.5 acres ~ in order to keep them in agricultural production and to provide an opportunity for the next generation of Oysterponds farmers.
- To restore and enhance the wetlands and woodlands on the Edwards Farm and the Trust’s 9.3-acre Terry Farm Preserve providing wildlife habitat, flood storage, storm surge buffering, and water quality improvements on the Orient peninsula.
We are still also continuing to work toward the protection of the adjacent farmland with the landowners, and hope to acquire and protect the 17.6-acre farm and reconstitute the original 38.5-acre farm.
Why is this important?
Thanks to the efforts by New York State, Suffolk County, Southold Town and private conservation organizations like the Peconic Land Trust, over 600 acres of valuable farmland, woodlands, wetlands, and coastline are permanently protected in Orient. This impressive assemblage of protected land stretching east from Narrow River Road to the Cross Sound Ferry Terminal, including the Trust’s 9.3-acre Terry Farm Preserve, contributes to the community character of Orient that make it one of Long Island’s most unique hamlets. Protecting the Edwards Farm and the adjacent 17.6-acre farm are logical next steps.
The Edwards Farm Conservation Project is also providing the Orient community with an opportunity to sustain and support its agricultural legacy and heritage. Orient has a rich and vibrant agricultural history where families such as the Browns, Kings, Lathams, and Terrys, among many others, have farmed for generations. By participating in the Edwards Farm Conservation Project you will be joining a community effort to build on that cherished legacy.
Lastly, this Project is an opportunity to enhance one of Orient's most critical and spectacular salt marsh and wetland systems. Salt marshes are among the most biologically productive and diverse ecosystems on earth, play an important role in filtering out nutrients and improving water quality, and serve as a shield against coastal storms and sea level rise. Unfortunately, human activity has altered Long Island's salt marshes and wetlands through tidal flow restrictions, stormwater outfalls, and historic fill, causing their decline and making way for invasive species like Phragmites australis. The restoration efforts on the Edwards and Terry Farm Preserves will better enable the surrounding wetlands and salt marsh to function as nature intended.
For more on the Edwards Farm Conservation Project, see our recent Newsletter.
How can you participate?
To learn more about this community effort and how you can help us achieve the projects goals, please contact:
Tim Caufield, Vice President, Peconic Land Trust at 631.283.3195 or TCaufield@PeconicLandTrust.org or
Joseph Townsend, Board Member, Peconic Land Trust, at 631.988.9345 or JTownsend2@aol.com
You can also make a charitable contribution today online (please indicate the Edwards Farm Conservation Project in the special purpose field) or call us at 631.283.3195.