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#83 Deborah Ann Light Transformed Her Community

Jeff Dobbin 200 Things about Norwich, Leaders & Legacy

Deborah Ann Light

Deborah Ann Light in 1996 in a photograph by Robert Giard at The East Hampton Star

Light was born in London in 1935 and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1961. She married three times and eventually settled on a 30-acre farm known as Quail Hill in Amagansett, New York. Her 1985 master’s degree from Vermont College was in religious studies, and she practiced as a Wiccan priestess.

Light was very active in local politics and community service. She loved the landscape of Long Island, and over the years she expanded her property by incrementally acquiring over 200 acres of contiguous farmland, always with the intention of helping to preserve the land.

With that goal in mind, she helped establish the Peconic Land Trust in 1983 along with other local residents. The organization still exists to this day, carrying out the mission of preserving Long Island’s working farms. In 1990, Light donated 20 acres of the original Quail Hill farm to the trust, followed five years later by another 190 acres.

Light was known to her Long Island neighbors as something of an eccentric. At one time, she lived in a windmill on her property. She briefly owned 36 cats, which were immortalized in a horror story that a friend published in The New Yorker. She passed away in 2015.

Today, thanks to the preservation efforts of Light and the Peconic Land Trust, Quail Hill Farm still operates as the longest-running community-supported organic farm on Long Island. A documentary about the farm was featured in the Hamptons International Film Festival in 2008.

You can learn more about Deborah Ann Light from her obituary in the East Hampton Star. Information about the Peconic Land Trust and Quail Hill Farm is at