Pitney Meadows Community Farm is $100,000 closer to its $3.1 million phase-one goal, thanks to a grant announced today by the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.
The county appropriated the funds in 2015 when Saratoga PLAN was developing the project. Since Saratoga PLAN handed off the project to PMCF last summer, an amended application needed to be submitted and approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors.
That process is now complete, said Matthew Veitch, a member of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors and chair of the City of Saratoga Springs’ Open Space Committee, which recommended to the City of Saratoga Springs the allocation of $1.2 million in Open Space bond funds to buy the development rights for the property as defined by the conservation easement.
"This is a project of historic proportions for Saratoga County, a legacy from the Pitneys that will benefit county residents potentially for centuries to come," Veitch said.
"PMCF's acquisition of the Pitney Farm and its plan to develop the property as a major agritourism attraction while developing a new generation of sustainability-focused agricultural entrepreneurs speak to real economic needs we have today," added Ed Kinowski, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. "We already can see a wide range of new productive partnerships forming around the farm, a resurgence of the country's agricultural roots.
PMCF is laying the foundation for a large, self-supporting teaching and training farm similar to those that are thriving in other Northeastern communities, such as the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Westchester County and the Intervale Community Farm in Burlington, VT. Renovating the property’s existing buildings and adding new facilities, PMCF will support educational programs and inter-generational community engagement opportunities, including a community garden, a children’s garden, a year-round farmers’ hub, a farm apprenticeship program, and a commercial kitchen.
PMCF will apply the county’s grant toward paying down a bridge loan taken out from the Adirondack Trust Company last month to finalize its purchase of the property, said Barbara Glaser, chair of PMCF’s Cultivation Committee and an open-space advocate who has worked toward the preservation of Pitney Farm for nearly 20 years.
Maria Trabka, Saratoga PLAN Executive Director and a member of the Saratoga County's Land Preservation Committee, praised the Board of Supervisors for redirecting the grant to PMCF.
“The Pitney Farm is a crown jewel in the City of Saratoga Springs’ open space portfolio,” she noted. "We are incredibly fortunate to be operating in a place where our leaders value the environmental, economic, and public health benefits of open spaces and farmland -- and are willing and able to provide some funding for it. It makes all the difference in being able to conserve land for the future.”
With its unanimous vote to purchase for $1.13 million the Pitney Farm’s development rights as documented in a conservation easement, the Saratoga Springs City Council ensured that the property will be used in perpetuity for “agricultural, forestry, wildlife habitat, water resource protection, educational and other open-space purposes.” At the same meeting, the City Council unanimously voted to serve as a municipal conduit for the county’s grant.
“The County Farmland and Open Space Protection program is a critical part of our economic and environmental sustainability success in Saratoga and one I advocated for each of the eight years I served on the County Board,” said Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen. “We are seeing a perfect application of these public funds designated for open protection and agriculture advancement with the Pitney Meadows Community Farm plans. The partnership between Saratoga County, Pitney Meadows Community Farm and our City is an example of a creative alliance to enable a wide range of educational programs that will engage the business and residential community in the sustainable production of locally grown foods.”
"We appreciate the County's support for the Pitney Meadows Community Farm and the City of Saratoga Springs City Council for being the conduit for this grant,” said Glaser, noting that total contributions to PMCF now stand at just over $700,000. “We are heartened by their confidence in our ability to bring this great project to fruition."
Nearly 90 Founding Patrons have come forward with gifts of $2500 or more. Extending the deadline for becoming a Founding Patron to January 31, PMCF describes this giving program here.