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East End nonprofit secures Bridgehampton farm

An East End nonprofit bought 20 acres of land that has been farmed since the 17th century in order to keep it as active farmland, the group announced Monday.

The Peconic Land Trust paid $2.5 million to Hayground Farms Inc., which sold the land's development rights to Southampton Town's Community Protection Fund in 2002.

The deal for the land on Route 27 in Bridgehampton closed June 17.

John v.H. Halsey, president of the Peconic Land Trust, said in a statement the purchase was made possible by the nonprofit South Fork Land Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Halsey said buying land for which development rights already are sold is necessary to preserve farming on the South Fork.

"It has gotten to the point that we literally must purchase protected farmland in order to keep working farms here on the South Fork," he said in the statement.

The town purchased the rights to develop land on the property at a cost of $50,000 per acre in 2002.

Darrah Yates, a ninth-generation member of the family that owned the land, said in a statement, "We are pleased that our land went to an organization that will treasure it and preserve it for agriculture."

The land will be used for the Farms for the Future Initiative, which includes farmland leases, incubator programs, and the reselling of agricultural land to young farmers at reduced prices.

The Peconic Land Trust called the soil, Bridgehampton silt loam, the "best agricultural soil on Long Island."

Lee Foster, a member of the South Fork Land Foundation and a farmer, said, "We have a responsibility to care, nurture, and use these soils for their best purpose."

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