Plans unveiled for community farm in Saratoga Springs
By Brett Samuels June 27, 2016
Photographer: Erica Miller
Mike Ingersoll, with the LA Group, reveals the new plan during the Pitney Meadows Community Farm Unveiling Event in Saratoga Springs on West Ave. on Sunday afternoon, June 26, 2016.
- Members of Pitney Meadows Community Farm Inc., the group spearheading the preservation project; local government leaders; and Michael Ingersoll, a partner at the LA Group land-planning firm, spoke to about 150 people gathered at Pitney Farms about plans for the property. The idea is to maintain the farmland and keep it as open, farmable space, while using the rest of the property as a community farm to teach visitors about modern agriculture, train farmers and sell locally produced food.“This is prime real estate, and that this is staying agricultural, the community should be proud of that,” Ingersoll told those in attendance.Paul Arnold, one of the leaders of Pitney Meadows Community Farm Inc., said the group is aiming to purchase the land by Nov. 1. The city is committing $1.16 million from its open space fund to buy the conservation easement, which would prevent the land from being used for non-agricultural purposes in the future.“We want them to keep coming back,” Arnold said. “We want them to be able to learn where green beans come from, or why peppers turn from green to red.”The project has been in the works for years and has been supported by the city and the county, Yepsen said.The Pitney Farms land was originally going to be owned by Saratoga PLAN, but the group dropped out of the project in April. Project leaders said Sunday’s event is just part of the beginning stages of the process, which a couple of people involved with the effort said could take about five years to complete.The Pitney family has owned the farm since 1862, said Bill Pitney, who added that he’s excited the property is going to be used by the community.
- The cost of attending Sunday’s event was $50. Before the plan was discussed, attendees sat under a tent beside one of the barns on the property and were served dinner and could purchase beer and wine. Proceeds from the event went toward the project, Arnold said.
- In total, the project is expected to cost about $15 million over the five years. Major fundraising hasn’t begun yet.
- “This city wants this, and this city is fully behind this,” Yepsen told attendees.
- Several speakers addressed those in attendance before the actual sketch was displayed. Project leaders and local government officials, including Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner and Saratoga Springs Mayor Joan Yepsen, spoke with pride about the project and discussed the importance of Pitney Farms to the community.
- Arnold added that he thinks residents in the area are excited to not have the land turn into housing or another type of development project. He wants people to feel connected to the farm, he said.
- He added that the mission was to balance preserving what’s on the property currently with the addition of new buildings that would house events and educational programs. So far, response to the proposed project has been enthusiastic, he said.
- A sketch of the plan revealed that project organizers intend to keep half of the land as farmland, leaving it as it is now. Other buildings currently on the plot of land along Western Avenue will remain there and be repurposed as educational stations, Ingersoll said. A few new buildings might be added farther back on the property, and walking trails could be added along the farmed area leading to the back of the 166-acre site.
- SARATOGA SPRINGS — Plans for a community farm development years in the making were unveiled Sunday evening when local and project leaders gathered to detail the future of Pitney Farms.