The Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust has worked successfully with Jason “Pete” Peckham and his sisters – Nina Young, Rachel Elder and Janice Byrne – to protect over 38 acres of prime, active farmland located on West Main Road directly across from the entrance to the Sakonnet Vineyards. The land came into the family in 1938, when Dorothea Walsh sold it as part of a larger parcel to brothers Bernard and Raymond Peckham, Pete’s and his sisters’ father and uncle respectively. Their $4,000 mortgage for the property was payable in five years at 6% interest.
The land, which slopes up from the road and then drops off to the Sakonnet River, was later divided into equal pieces for Pete, Nina, Rachel and Janice, all of whom decided to protect the farming heritage of their property. For a total purchase price of $2.7 million, half of which was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Ag Trust has now purchased the development rights of this acreage from the owners. The Deed to Development Rights, which the Trust will hold, ensures that the land will always be in agricultural use.
Farmland is often lost when it is passed on to successive generations that may subdivide it in one generation and then, as the number of owners increases in subsequent generations, finally sell it when too many owners can’t agree on how to use it. Fortunately for Little Compton, the owners of Plat 2 Lot 11 have both the commitment to farming as a way of life and the forethought to realize the time to protect agricultural land is now.
The Deed also stipulates that the Ag Trust will be able to “trim, maintain and remove the trees, brush and other growth which obstruct the view to the agricultural properties” along the stonewall bordering the east side of the property. The restoration of this vista will make the rows of potatoes, sweet corn, peppers and butternut squash growing there visible to passers-by on West Main Road.
The Ag Trust thanks Pete Peckham, Nina and Tyler Young, Rachel Elder and Janice Byrne for their vision, their foresight, and their commitment to preserving Little Compton, as well as the Natural Resources Conservation Service whose grant made this project possible.
The Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust was established by the voters at the 1986 Little Compton Financial Town Meeting. Funds for the purchase of either fee interest in land or development rights are raised during the fiscal year through a transfer tax on all real estate sales over $150,000.00
Submitted by Jana Porter, (401) 649-2500, for the LCACT.