Pitney Farm is the last remaining operating farm within the Saratoga Springs city limits.
Partners have been working to purchase and preserve the family farm for the past several months. Earlier this year, the organization Saratoga PLAN backed out of its plans to purchase the property.
In a statement, Saratoga PLAN executive director Maria Trabka said her organization “passed off the baton” to another entity that would be better suited to own and manage the 166 acres.
But the subsequently created Pitney Meadows Community Farm non-profit, which was aided by PLAN’s preliminary surveys of the property, now says it is entering the home stretch, with a contract of sale signed last week.
PMCF President Sandy Arnold…
“Saratoga PLAN was instrumental in just getting us to where we are, doing a lot of the due dillegence. They’ve been a real key partner for us,” said Arnold.
Arnold, who also runs a farm in Washington County with her husband, Paul, says she expects the sale to close in December.
“It can go a little later if it has to…but it will definitely close in 2016,” said Arnold.
In the meantime, PMCF is hoping to raise more than $1 million to purchase the property from the Pitney family, make improvements, and establish a stewardship fund.
It addition to preserving the city’s so-called Greenbelt, open space that encircles Saratoga Springs, PMCF hopes to connect the farm with new walking trails.
Development in the Greenbelt has been hotly contested in recent years. Notably, expansion plans at Saratoga National Golf Course divided community members and the business community.
PMCF hopes to establish a teaching and training farm, citing similar operations at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Westchester County and the Intervale Community Farm in Burlington, Vermont.
Local government has also played a part in PMCF’s vision.
The City of Saratoga Springs is contributing $1.13 million toward a conservation easement to protect the agricultural land from development.
The money comes from the city’s $5 million Open Space Bond Fund that was approved by voters in 2002.
Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen said the Pitney Farm will help generate jobs and preserve the city’s agricultural history.
“As well as preservation of open space and construction of trails that are going to go through that property is a big win for the city and for our city residents, but also for those that are going to be utilizing the property to further their careers in farming and education and just their quality of life here locally,” said Yepsen.
Also in the works are educational initiatives with SUNY Adirondack and Skidmore College.