Edwards Farm Conservation Project
In the summer of 2015, the Peconic Land Trust joined with members of the Orient Community, Town of Southold and the Edwards Family to purchase and protect 21 acres of farmland, woodlands and wetlands that belonged to the Edward, Latham, and Terry families since the early 19th century.
The property was being sold for $1.09 million. The Town of Southold purchased development restrictions on the property using $700,000 from its Community Preservation Fund and the Peconic Land Trust purchased the land using its Revolving Fund. This farmland, woodland and wetlands, and expansive view shed 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, the Trust embarked on a three-year, $450,000 fundraising campaign in 2015. To date, through the efforts of many, we raised over $100,000 with gifts ranging from several hundred dollars to as much as $30,000.
Once the money is replenished in its entirety, the Trust hopes to preserve additional farmland in the area, including the 17.6 acre farm to the east of the Edwards Farm in order to restore the original 38 acre Latham Family Farm.
Currently, Danny and Patty Latham of Latham Farms lease and farm the Edwards farmland. The Trust's ownership of the property ensures that it will continue to be farmed by future farmers as part of the Trust's Farms for the Future Initiative, which is working to provide access and affordability to protected farmland.
Superstorm Sandy caused significant damage to the southern area of the farmland when a tide gate was destroyed. The Trust is working to reinstall a traditional tide gate so that we will be able to reintroduce tidal flow to the wetlands. This will help abate mosquitos, diversify and increase the Farm's habitat areas, and aid in protecting the Farm and the surrounding properties from the effects of sea level rise and large storm events.
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 marsh and wetland systems. 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 marshes and wetlands through tidal flow restrictions, stormwater outfalls, and historic fill, causing their decline. The restoration efforts on the Edwards Farm Preserve will better enable the surrounding wetlands and marsh to function as nature intended.
For more on the Edwards Farm Conservation Project, see our recent Newsletter.
To learn more about this community effort and how you can help us achieve the project's goals, please contact:
Tim Caufield, Vice President, Peconic Land Trust at 631.283.3195 or TCaufield@PeconicLandTrust.org or
Holly Sanford, Project Manager, Peconic Land Trust, at 631.283.3195 or HSanford@PeconicLandTrust.org
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.