The Peconic Land Trust has sold a nearly 20-acre piece of farmland to a farmer working to establish a beef cattle farm in Southold.
John v.H. Halsey, the president of the Peconic Land Trust, announced the sale of 19.2 acres on the northeast corner of Young’s Avenue and Route 48, along with buildings and structures in Southold to John Murnane of Olde Road Farm, LLC.
The Trust acquired the property, farmed for a variety of crops for more than 50 years, in March of 2014, and used it for its Farms for the Future Initiative, which helps farmers find affordable land through leasing, incubator programs or purchases. While the Town of Southold holds a development rights easement, the Trust looked to sell the property with continued use as a farm in the fall of 2019.
“The primary goal of the Trust’s Farms for the Future Initiative is to ensure that farming continues for generations to come by providing farmers, both new and established, with access to affordable farmland,” Halsey said. This property was “the perfect opportunity to provide a growing farm operation with a farmstead, one that includes structures and infrastructure in addition to land,” he said.
Murnane’s existing 18-acre farm is in the early stages of establishing a small beef cattle farm operation with 15 wagyu cattle. The purchase will help with his plans to expand to include sheep, chicken and crops. The Peconic Land Trust said his first order of business will be to make repairs to the barns on the newly-acquired property and plant the fields in grazing crops for his cattle.
The property includes five structures—a Quonset hut, three barns and a small seasonal farm labor dwelling.
“I’ve wanted to get back into farming as I had growing up in Ireland,” said Murnane, who has had a home in Southold for 18 years. “I’ve been running a construction business and raising five kids with my wife for the past 30 years, and for the last five years have been asking myself, ‘Where did the last 25 years go?’ Having a farm and the beautiful Peconic Bay is the best of both worlds for me and my family. I decided it was time to do what I loved as a kid growing up and maybe slow down a little,” he said in a statement issued by the Trust.
The sale includes an affirmative farming covenant. If the commercial agricultural operation stops for one year, the farmland must be managed so that it can be used in the future. If the agricultural operation stops for two or more years, the Trust has the right to lease the farmland to another farmer to ensure it remains in agricultural production, the Trust said. There is also a requirement that at least 80% of the land be used for food production.
The Farms for the Future Initiative helps create opportunities for farmers to start or expand their agricultural operations, while also encouraging food production farming and keeping protected farmland in agricultural production.
“We are excited to see this farmstead have a new life as part of John’s expanding cattle operation,” said Dan Heston, Director of Agricultural Programs at the Trust. “Keeping farmland in active ag, and supporting many different types of farm operations, is important as we all work toward keeping agriculture viable in, and integral to our communities.”