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The ad­ja­cent farm­land makes Sa­gaponack homes some of the most ex­pen­sive in the coun­try.

Sa­gaponack is listed in Forbes among the top five most ex­pen­sive zip codes in the coun­try every year. Part of what makes this tiny ham­let so de­sir­able is its prox­im­ity to the ocean, so close you can feel the salt on your skin. But the other ma­jor as­set of this area is the sweep­ing vis­tas, made pos­si­ble by the acres and acres of ac­tive farm­land. How do we keep these tracts of land in pro­duc­tion when the value of a potato or a sun­flower can’t hold up to the value of square footage of a Sa­gaponack man­sion?

John Halsey, pres­i­dent of the Pe­conic Land Trust (296 Hamp­ton Road, Southamp­ton, 631-2380235; pecon­i­clandtrust .org), has pon­dered this ques­tion for years, and he’s seen the com­mu­nity come to­gether to pre­serve farm­land and farm­ing tra­di­tions even in the face of over- whelm­ing re­sale value.

“At its roots, Sa­gaponack is an agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity with farm­lands rolling to the ocean,” says Halsey. “But now you have a range of ob­jec­tives peo­ple have in com­ing here, and I think it’s a chal­lenge for a com­mu­nity to main­tain its soul and at the same time em­brace the new.”

Pike Farms, on Sagg Main Street in Sa­gaponack, used to rent its 7.6 acres from the Hop­ping fam­ily. When in 2010 the Hop­pings de­cided to sell be­cause of the es­tate

taxes they were fac­ing, that land went on the mar­ket for $6 mil­lion. How could a farmer ever pay those prices? “The com­mu­nity raised over $1 mil­lion from a few hun­dred peo­ple,” says Halsey, “and the town and county and Land Trust played im­por­tant roles in that pur­chase. We sold the prop­erty to the Pikes for around $25,000 an acre.”

The only rea­son this was pos­si­ble was that the de­vel­op­ment rights were sold, and the land can and must be used for pro­duc­tive farm­ing. With leg work like this, many of Sa­gaponack’s wide open ex­panses can be pre­served. Cor­co­ran bro­ker Tim Davis (88 Main St., Southamp­ton, 631-238-7300; cor­co­ran .com) has lived on the East End his whole life, and he feels that Sa­gaponack is one of the few places where it seems “time stood still.”

“The zon­ing never per­mit­ted com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment, and the Sa­gaponack Gen­eral Store and post of­fice were all that were needed to ser­vice the ru­ral farm com­mu­nity,” says Davis. “The lack of com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment al­lowed for more of an open space and big sky feel­ing. This is the ap­peal that con­tin­ues to at­tract buy­ers who love the feel­ing of wide open land­scapes with ac­cess to one of the most beau­ti­ful ocean beaches in the world.”

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