Condzella Farm in Wading River Partners with Peconic Land Trust for Preservation Efforts
In the early 1900s, John Condzella’s great-grandfather, William, and his wife, Mary, immigrated from Poland to the United States and quickly bought farm property in Wading River. They grew potatoes and planted strawberries, a crop his family was well known for in Poland.
Years earlier, the property had been the site of a successful dairy farm run by JK Major, which delivered milk to neighboring townships on horseback.
The barn that housed Mr. Major’s cows is still located at Condzella Farm near North Country Road in Wading River, although it has undergone some upgrades in recent years, with a new roof and siding.
Inside the barn today, instead of the cows, crates of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables grown on the small, diverse farm can be found crammed together.
“One thing about agriculture is that there is always a need for change,” Mr. Condzella said. “You always have to adapt and evolve. It is as true today as it was four generations ago with my great-grandfather.
The Condzella farm once spanned 60 acres, but today it has 16 as various plots have been sold over the years. Now the Condzella family hope to protect the future of the region by partnering with Peconic Land Trust to purchase development rights to six properties totaling 38 acres, to ensure the land remains agricultural land and to allow the farm Condzella to expand.
Peconic Land Trust has set a fundraising goal of $ 700,000, of which $ 200,000 is already in hand. To publicize this conservation effort, PLT and the Condzella family organized a tour of the property on October 14, as Mr. Condzella detailed the history of the farm and discussed its evolution. For example, the farm is still well known for its pick-your-own strawberries, carrying on a tradition that dates back to its very beginnings, but for about a decade it has also grown on-farm hops that are sold to some local breweries, as well as some. in Brooklyn and upstate New York.
About thirty people took part in the tour.
Peconic Land Trust is operating under a deadline of March 31, 2022, to raise the rest of the funds. This deadline is tied to a grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to purchase the development rights to 15 acres currently held by the Condzellas. Funding is also needed to purchase 17.6 acres on the south side of Route 25A which currently belong to the Zoumas family, as well as six acres already owned by PLT which are adjacent to the property already owned by the Condzellas on the north side of the route 25A. The Condzellas are currently leasing these six acres.
PLT project manager Julie Wesnofske said there were three pending claims filed with the state. She said the request to acquire the land the Condzellas already own has been funded and that they are “very close” to the other two.
The fundraising campaign is necessary, she said, because New York Ag and Markets only pays 75% of the total cost of the project, which includes what PLT will need to purchase the development rights.
The land trust has gone so far as to guarantee that it will match the necessary funds if all the money cannot be raised through private donations.
“It was quite unusual for us to do this, but we thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up,” said Amanda Abraham, director of development at PLT. “So we have to make it work one way or another.”
The Zoumas family is participating in conservation efforts to sell development rights to their property, which is currently divided into residential and commercial areas, Ms. Wesnofske said. A shopping center with bank and restaurant has already received approval from the Town Planning Council since 2012, but has never been built. The same request was then resubmitted and approved again in 2020.
“They are extremely generous in doing this and accept much less than what the development rights are really worth,” Ms. Wesnofske said.
By purchasing the neighboring property, the Condzellas plan to expand their farm and increase their product sales.
More information on conservation effort can be found here.