Connect to the Land

We seek to bring our neighbors closer to the land and one another. We nurture our land, grow healthy food, encourage wildlife, and provide a welcoming place of peace and respite for the community.

Community Gardens

Growing food in our own community is a key part of our Farm’s mission. Founded in 2016, our Community Gardens have grown from an initial 40 plots to 110! Our gardeners represent individuals and families from Saratoga to small nonprofits such as CREATE Community Studios, and larger organizations such as the Saratoga Community Health Center, Saratoga Senior Center, Girl Scouts, and the Waldorf School of Saratoga. Everyone is welcome!

Garden plots come in three sizes: 4’x8’x12” (raised wood bed), 5'x8' with trellis, 8’x11’ and 11’x19’ (in-ground, not raised), and 3’x8’x24” (tall steel troughs that are easily accessible for gardeners with limited mobility).  Each plot comes with access to water, soil and compost, tools, seeds, and knowledge provided by staff. All gardeners commit to six hours of volunteer work in the garden or farm during the growing season. Our garden volunteers lend a hand with important garden maintenance during the entire growing season (April/May through October). That’s what puts the “community” in our gardens.

Our gardens are open to community members through an application process. The gardens were at full capacity during 2020, and we’ve started a waitlist for the 2021 season. If you would like to be placed on the waitlist or need more information, please email [email protected].

2020 Response to COVID-19

Most of our educational programs, gardening workshops, and the annual Fairy Fest (a celebration of magic and creativity) were cancelled. However, with social distancing and mask requirements in place, as well as the installation of a handwashing station in the garden, we still had a successful growing season with over 90 families enjoying bountiful harvests. Garden workshops were initially held via Zoom, but later in the season held in the garden with safety protocols in place. We hope to resume our full garden programming in 2021.

Trails and Recreation

Pitney Meadows Community Farms' 166 acres encompass farm fields, forests, wetlands, springs and Geyser Creek access. A comprehensive trail plan is in design which will promote access for recreation on the farm. It will include trails for walking, biking, birding, fishing access points, educational signage designating points of interest and wildlife viewing opportunities. The trails will also emphasize the farming projects at the Farm. Some trails will be ADA accessible. The system is being designed to connect to and incorporate the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail connecting the western neighborhoods to the Railroad Run trail, downtown Saratoga Springs and the State Park.

The trails are being designed with input from a diverse group of stakeholders. Our Board members Peter Goutos and Kim Feeney London are leading the program, fulfilling on behalf of the Farm a commitment to the City to establish recreational opportunities for the public. This exciting project is anticipated to result in up to two miles of trails, some configured in loops and some to destination points of interest. While COVID-19 has delayed our major trail construction, preliminary work is already underway.

Pick-Your-Own-CSA

As part of our mission, we seek to try innovative new strategies to engage the public in supporting local agriculture. In 2019, we piloted a Pick Your Own CSA, a unique model to this region. Our program was well-received and continues in the current season. We are fully subscribed for 2020, so stay tuned to sign up for 2021 season.

Click here to learn more about our Pick-Your-Own CSA

Our Farm Practices

Community Gardens

Our goal in the Community Gardens is to model the best organic and sustainable gardening practices for both soil improvement and pest management for small scale growing. As required by our garden rules, all community gardeners use only organic certified (OMRI) amendments, fertilizers and pest control products.

Community gardeners improve their plots through the use of organic compost, leaf mulch, worm castings, and cover crops. Pests have been controlled through removal by hand, safe removal of infected plants, and limited use of organic certified sprays. For 2020, in an effort to reduce the expense, waste, and storage issues associated with plastic container seed starting, we are piloting the use of soil blockers in the new Children’s Greenhouse. These hand-held devices are pressed into growing medium to create a “block” of compressed soil for starting seeds. The growing medium for the blocks is comprised of sphagnum peat, worm castings and biochar, and is sourced from a NY-based manufacturer. These organic growing methods are perfect for this smaller scale garden production, and a great opportunity for children to learn about sustainable growing methods.

Farm Fields

After three years of allowing the field to remain fallow, in 2019 we began farming again on 5 acres of our 166-acre property. In 2020, we will expand to approximately 10 acres under production, allowing is to expand our Pick-Your-Own CSA to 80 members, to continue to grow for local food pantries, Saratoga area restaurants and institutions, and to supply school districts in Saratoga Springs, Corinth, Galway, and Schuylerville with local produce under the State’s Farm to School program.

As the farm operation grows and evolves, we aim to test and use organic and sustainable practices as described below.

  • Cover Crops - Cover crops are one of our farmer’s favorite ways to add organic material to the soil. The cover crops grown in 2019 include Sudangrass, buckwheat, field peas, oats, winter rye, and red clover. Cover crops discourage weed seeds from sprouting, which saves in labor and cultivation over time. Moreover, they fix nitrogen in the soil, conserve water, and build up the organic matter in the soil over time. They are a great tool for prepping a field for the future, and resting a field after it has been used. We use organic cover crop seed from Lakeview Organic Grain Company in Penn Yan, NY and Johnny’s Seed Company.
  • Biodegradable Mulch - This material is an alternative to traditional plastic row covers, and is made predominantly from starch. As it is 100 percent biodegradable, it does not need to be removed from the field at the end of the season, but rather degrades in place with the help of weather and cover crops. We use this mulch to warm the soil, retain water, and avoid the need to disturb the soil to cultivate weeds. The result is earlier and higher yields. More importantly, this allows us to avoid the use of an estimated 600 pounds of plastic that would otherwise end up in a local landfill at the end of the season.
  • We use only organic certified sprays in our field, and only when we have a pest issue. Inputs and fertilizers other than the compost made at the farm also all fall under organic standards.
  • No-Till Methods - Research has shown that tilling (either to remove weeds or break new ground) has a negative effect on the soil, destroying the vital microbes that improve soil quality. For 2020, we have invested in farm implements that will allow us to decrease the amount of tillage for certain crops. This experiment requires us to scale-up a method which has primarily been used on home gardens and on smaller farms.

Community Compost

Compost returns valuable nutrients to the soil to help maintain soil quality and fertility and also improves water retention in sandy soils such as those at our farm.  The use of compost is a key organic practice that improves plant growth and leads to improved yields, making it a priority for implementation at our farm. For 2020, we will be making our own compost using manure from a local horse farm and coffee grounds.

Moreover, in 2019, we accepted vegetable food scraps from the community to be composted for use on the farm, under a partnership with Sustainable Saratoga. For 2020, this program is currently on hold due to the pandemic.

Beekeeping

Pollinators are responsible for assisting over 80% of the world’s flowering plants to reproduce. Some scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of animal pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths, birds and bats, and beetles and other insects.

In 2017, Pitney Meadows Community Farm hosted its first three honeybee hives, which were managed by Jenn Dunn, an experienced local beekeeper. In 2019, under Jenn’s leadership, we launched an inaugural introductory mentored beekeeping class. The class was designed to guide young adult and adult students through the entire 2019 beekeeping season using a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on experience. The goal of the course was to provide participants with the confidence and experience to manage their own hives and to act as mentors for other new beekeepers. The class honeybee hives are located in a field that is a distance from the hub of main farm activities where most people gather. As of fall 2019, there are 20 honeybee colonies located on the farm. Throughout the spring and summer, the hives are managed every 3-4 weeks by Jenn and 6 mentored beekeepers. Routine hive management includes identifying the queen; assessing brood, pollen and nectar patterns; observing the activity and mood of the hive population; and searching for signs of disease. The hives are treated for varroa and winterized in the fall.

Zero Waste Events

For 2020, we are aiming for a goal of reaching zero waste for all farm-managed events. In consultation with our partners at Sustainable Saratoga, we are developing a plan to replace the use of paper, eliminate recyclable plastic dinnerware, and compost food scraps. Stay tuned for happenings in 2021.

Vist Our New Online Farm Store!

With our Farm's new online store,  you can browse all the produce we have for sale (along with meats and other specialty foods from our local partner farms), make your...

READ MORE
Getting to Know Executive Director Lynn Trizna

Photo by Anita Sergent Our Farm is grateful to have farming expert Lynn Trizna as our new Executive Director. Lynn is the former Farm Manager for St. Luke’s Rodale Institute...

READ MORE
Fall Fun at Ponies, Pumpkins & Pies

We welcomed witches, horses dressed as lions, and all kinds of costumed fall fun at our October 25 Ponies, Pumpkins & Pies event, partnered with our friends at the Thoroughbred...

READ MORE
Our New Greenhouses Are Up and Planted!

  Our two new 30-by-96-foot greenhouses are already packed with plantings. Board Chair Rich Torkelson and a mighty crew undertook the construction, and Aliza, Kelly, and their most hearty crew...

READ MORE
Vist Our New Online Farm Store!

With our Farm's new online store,  you can browse all the produce we have for sale (along with meats and other specialty foods from our local partner farms), make your...

READ MORE
Getting to Know Executive Director Lynn Trizna

Photo by Anita Sergent Our Farm is grateful to have farming expert Lynn Trizna as our new Executive Director. Lynn is the former Farm Manager for St. Luke’s Rodale Institute...

READ MORE
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram