Access and Inclusion in our Community Gardens
At Pitney Meadows, one of the core values is inclusiveness. Inclusiveness is demonstrated almost every day on the farm. The trail loop, fields, community gardens and farm store are open to the public all year long to stroll and enjoy the array of views from the tiniest chrysalis hanging from a milkweed plant to the expansive sun setting behind the farm’s high tunnels. Pitney also strives to offer programming to everyone in the community through workshops, children’s activities, a CSA program, the community gardens, and rentable event space.
The community gardens, workshops, and children’s activities are all donation based programming set to a sliding scale. This asks participants for a suggested amount that covers the basic costs (including staffing, time, resources, etc.). No one will be turned away due to an inability to pay and it is generally encouraged that those who have expendable income donate more than the suggested amount, which in turn covers the cost of others who are in a less fortunate position. This form of accountability and mutual aid is critical to continuing the programs and work of the farm while ensuring that people of all backgrounds are given the same opportunities.
There are many different organizations and businesses that offer a sliding scale model. When I was an undergraduate student at SUNY New Paltz, I was introduced to the system through a local acupuncturist. I wondered how much could I truly afford as a student working part-time at a coffee shop, although on the other hand, I was incredibly privileged with my own car and financial support from my parents towards college. Then, a few years ago, a good friend introduced me to Alexis J. Cunningfolk’s representation of the model through three bottles. I found this visual so helpful when understanding how much to give. It was enlightening to see it so clearly laid out.
With the support of people who can afford to give more than the suggested amount, we uplift others who have been historically left out. Our programs are open to everyone, giving equal access to all. By using this sliding scale model the limiting factor of finances is removed, giving equitable access to all as well. As Community Gardens Manager at Pitney Meadows, it is my goal to continue offering community garden beds on a sliding scale. As we close our 2023 season, we’ll be opening up registration for 2024 to existing gardeners and encouraging use of this donation system. If you need to pay less than the suggested amount, we are operating on trust so, please donate as you can and no questions will be asked.
Thank you for sharing these values with our team. Together, we’re creating a unique and special resource here in Saratoga.
-Melissa S., Community Gardens Manager