DESIGNING THE FUTURE
OF PITNEY FARM
A new nonprofit organization, Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Inc. acquired the 166-acre Pitney Farm on Dec. 15, 2016 with the help of a $1.13 million investment in the project by the City of Saratoga Springs.
On March 5, 2017, the Pitney Meadows Board of Directors held a Public Forum aimed at getting the community's ideas on how to make the most of the farm. This is the second in a series of articles in which we'll share highlights of the brainstorming that took place that day and the future toward which they're pointing.
The two 15-minute breakout sessions focused on Pitney Meadows’ potential connections with colleges in the area gave a number of Skidmore College faculty members and students the opportunity to brainstorm potential areas of intersection. The sessions were led by Sustainability Coordinator Levi Rogers and Monica Reveret Richter, associate professor of biology.
Additional participants included Skidmore faculty members John Brueggemann in Sociology and Nurcan Atalan-Helicke in Environmental Studies and Sciences, plus four students, all seniors: Jerry Lerman, Sarah Hooghuis, Sydney Randall, and Zia O’Neill.
Farm-Based Education. Pitney Meadows resources might be used for curriculum development or teaching a new curriculum. Such a curriculum would need to align with New York State standards.
Internship Program. There are opportunities for both academic-yeaar and summer internships. Skidmore requires an on-site supervisor and faculty sponsor. Credit-bearing internships must be approved within first three days of each semester. Pitney Meadows will need to work individually with each school to meet internship guidelines. Pitney Meadows opportunities should be framed as professional skill development, intended to strengthen resumes and round out the classroom experience.
Service Requirements. Many Skidmore courses require between ten and 30 hours of service. Pitney Meadows should maintain an up-to-date “live” list of internship and volunteer opportunities that students can access. A good model is Soul Fire Farm.
Capstone Projects. Environmental Studies and Sciences includes a year-long senior capstone project. The program is always eager to learn about project opportunities, and Pitney Meadows can reach out with specific needs. For example: Senior Capstone students Jerry Lerman, Sarah Hooghuis and Sydney Randall are researching farm-based centers’ outreach to K-6 educational programs with the aim of compiling a list of best practices and recommendations for school-year and summer programs. They’re also exploring funding sources.
Orientation. Might a Pitney Meadows component be built into the orientation of first-year students?
Research Opportunities. These are especially abundant in Biology and Environmental Studies and Sciences. At some institutions, students can apply for funds to support summer opportunities off site. Skidmore has See Beyond Program. Long-term projects might be associated with scholarly scientific and interdisciplinary projects at the farm. National Science Foundation (NSF) funds projects directed by faculty investigators and offers students associated Research Experience for Undergraduates summer support. Also available: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Grants.
Regional Food Hub / Contract Farming. Pitney Meadows might aggregate food from regional farms to encourage larger institutions to purchase local food in greater quantities. A food processing facility might be established to make local food more accessible to larger-scale kitchens, such as broccoli florets, washed and cut lettuce, and frozen veggies for year-round access. Should canning be considered?
Food Insecurity. Might Pitney Meadows play a role in this area? A gleaning program would help to address food insecurity in the region.
POTENTIAL RESOURCES AND PARTNERS
Potential ties between Pitney Meadows and Skidmore:
- Sustainability Office
- Biology Department
- Sociology Department
- Murray-Aikins Dining Hall
- Management and Business Department (marketing, accounting)
- Environmental Studies and Sciences Program
- Environmental Action Club
- Skidmore’s GIS Center for Interdisciplinary Research (GIS mapping)
- Michelle Hubbs, Director, Community Service Office
- Eric Morser, Director, Civic Engagement
- Janet Casey, Director, First-Year Experience