Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, Bruce and Jeanne Tilden, Huntington Town board members, representatives from Suffolk County, Larry Foglia, Suffolk County Farm Committee Representative and environmental groups were on hand Oct. 21 to announce the Town and County’s 50-50 partnership in the acquisition of the development rights to the approximately 13.69 acres of Tilden Lane Farm, a farm that has been in operation since 1793.
In July of 2015 Councilman Cuthbertson started the process for the Town of Huntington to consider acquiring the development rights to the farm (TOH resolution 2015-345 & 2017-327) in conjunction with Suffolk County.
In January 2020 the Town and County closed on a joint acquisition of farmland development rights of the Tilden Lane Farm. This acquisition was possible due to the Farmland Development Rights program, which began in 1974. Suffolk County was the first in the nation to create a program like this, which permanently preserves farmland.
Other farms in Huntington that are protected in this manner include the 49-acre White Post Farm on West Pulaski Road in Huntington and the 1.9-acre former Ketcham Horse Farm in Fort Salonga both of which had their farmland development rights acquired by the County. In 2009 the Town and County shared in an acquisition of farmland development rights for 16.4 acres of the Richter’s orchard in East Northport and Fox Hollow Farm in South Huntington which is now ELIJA Farm.
Since the creation of the program, Suffolk County has preserved over 11,000 acres. Additionally, other municipalities and land trusts have preserved 9,000 acres, bringing the countywide total to 20,000 acres. In 1998, when the first Huntington Environmental Open Space and Park Fund Review Advisory (or the EOSPA) Program was approved by Huntington residents, 15 open space acquisitions were made with the County’s support, matched by Town dollars. This helped to protect 2/3 of the total acreage conserved through the EOSPA program.
The County Farmland Protection Program is known across the country. It preserved agricultural lands and farm livelihoods. It allows families and farmers to ply their heritage and opens opportunities for starting farmers to engage at a more reasonable cost.
“I want to thank the Tilden family, Suffolk County, and the EOSPA committee. This collaboration will allow the Tilden Lane Farm to continue to operate as a working farm” said Councilman Mark Cuthbertson. “The thousands of acres of farmland in Suffolk County that have been preserved, are a “win-win” in that it preserves the land and allows farming operations to continue in perpetuity. There is such little farm land in Western Suffolk County, I am proud to be a part of preserving every farm we can.”
“Everyone at Tilden Lane Farm appreciates the support of our elected officials in the Town of Huntington and the County of Suffolk that will enable us to keep operating our 8-generation family farm!,” said Bruce Tilden.
“Through the County’s first in the nation Farmland Preservation program, and thanks to the partnership of the Town of Huntington, we have been able to preserve more than 13 acres of farmland in Western Suffolk County – a major accomplishment when it comes to ensuring the future of farming all across Suffolk,” said County Executive Bellone. “This family run farm, which has been in operation for centuries, will be able to continue their tradition of providing Christmas Trees to the surrounding community for generations to come.”
“It is vital that we preserve as much of Long Island’s usable farmland as possible. I commend and thank Councilman Mark Cuthbertson for his hard work, as well as everyone on our Open Space Committee and in the Suffolk County Executive’s office who was involved in this important farmland acquisition” stated Councilwoman Joan Cergol
“Thanks to the Town-County partnership that allowed the preservation of Tilden Farm and other ones like it, future generations will also be inspired to become advocates for the environment and protecting our green space,” said Supervisor Chad Lupinacci.
“Thank you to Bruce, his wife Jeanne, and the entire Tilden family as well as the county and EOSPA committee for working with the Town of Huntington to help preserve this open space and retain Tilden Farm’s agricultural purpose for generations to come. Acquiring Tilden Farm is an incredible example of what can be accomplished when local governments work together,” said Councilman Ed Smyth.
“The purchase of the development rights for Tilden Farm is a wonderful way for Suffolk County and the Town of Huntington to partner in maintaining this farmland in perpetuity,”, stated Councilman Eugene Cook.
“I want to thank the Tilden Family who will continue to operate this Greenlawn Christmas tree farm, while protecting it from development. I am proud to be part of preserving not only an important part of Long Island history, but a part of the charm that Huntington was built on.”