The Peconic Land Trust last week announced the sale of the Amagansett Farmers Market and farmland, a total of 9.33 acres, to Amber Waves Farm, which has been growing organic wheat, vegetables and herbs on the land adjacent to the Farmers Market since 2009.
The land had been owned by Maggie de Cuevas, who already donated Affirmative and Affordable Farming Covenants and Resale Restrictions to the Peconic Land Trust on 6.15 acres of the farmland, which includes a provision that 80 percent of the farmland be restricted to growing food.
“Security through land ownership is critical to the long-term sustainability of any farming enterprise. We are ecstatic to reach this milestone and are honored to become a permanent a part of the fabric of the Amagansett community,” said Amber Waves Farm co-owner Amanda Merrow. “We are grateful for years of immeasurable support from our farm’s board of directors, members, donors, and neighbors, as well as the de Cuevas family, Peconic Land Trust, and nearby Quail Hill Farm and Balsam Farms.”
The Amagansett Farmers Market was run for the past two seasons by the Amagansett Food Institute, and before that by Manhattan restaurateur Eli Zabar, both of whom leased the space through agreements with the Peconic Land Trust and Ms. de Cuevas.
Amber Waves Farm plans to continue its food education and land stewardship on the property, and will share more details about plans for the Farmers Market as the season approaches.
“The unwavering support we have received from our community underscores our continued commitment to our mission of food education,” added Ms. Merrow. “We are looking forward to continuing the pursuit of this mission through many future decades of stewardship of Amber Waves Farm, while we welcome the community to enjoy the farm as it grows and evolves. The acquisition of our farm land is the culmination of years of effort, and also represents the start of a new and exciting chapter in the evolution of Amber Waves Farm.”
The sale comes with affordable farming covenants and resale restrictions, requiring that 80 percent of the land is used for the production of food. Vineyard and equestrian uses and horticultural products that result in the removal of soil from the property are prohibited.
If the farm is fallow for one year, it must be kept available for agricultural use, and if the farmland is fallow for two years, the Land Trust has the right to lease it to another farmer to ensure that it remains in agricultural production.
“All of us at the Trust will be forever grateful to Maggie de Cuevas for her strong conservation ethic. In this case, she stepped up and acquired the Amagansett Farmers Market in 2008 to prevent the property from being developed,” said Peconic Land Trust President John v.H. Halsey. “Now, she has turned the property over to young farmers and ensured a future of fresh, locally grown vegetables, fruits, herbs and more on this fertile land. Her gift of additional restrictions on protected farmland is the first of its kind in East Hampton Town. We are very pleased with this outcome, and wish Amber Waves tremendous success as they move forward with their innovative farm operation.”
In 2008, the Peconic Land Trust worked with Maggie de Cuevas, Pat Struk (the prior owner of the Amagansett Farmers Market), and East Hampton Town to conserve the property. At the same time, East Hampton Town purchased the development rights on 7.56 acres.
The discussions on this next step have been underway for several years.
“Conservation transactions are complex, and it is not unusual for these transactions to take years before they reach fruition,” said Mr. Halsey. “We are very grateful to Pat Struk for working with us to conserve the Market and cannot express fully our gratitude to Maggie de Cuevas for her on-going support of the Trust’s conservation work as exemplified by this important acquisition.”
“This transaction shows the power of public and private partnerships. It is a wonderful day for the Trust, the Town, and the Amagansett community,” he added. “We look forward to a vibrant market in Amagansett that highlights the importance of our regional agricultural economy.”