Friends of the Farm: Jim Gold, Board Member, Volunteer, Supporter
If you know someone like Jim Gold, you know that if you reach out and ask for their help, they will be among the first to show up and the last to leave. You've likely seen Jim working away at any number of projects on the farm over this and previous seasons. Jim came to the farm as a volunteer and supporter and is now our Board Secretary.
What brought you to the Farm?
Well, I learned about the dedication of the keys to the farm from the Pitney family to the young non-profit. I believe it was fall of 2016. It was a chilly day, under a tent and various people were there. That was my first interaction with the farm. My wife passed away in July of 2016 and this just seemed like a great way to get involved in the property. For years, Cheryl and I drove past here to go to SPAC and for years this was an open space we were concerned about. When Ken Klotz was mayor, he appointed me to the Open Space Committee and many folks became involved with planning for the use of the bond money. Pitney Farm was always number one on the list because we feared the farm would be developed. Cheryl and I hoped the farm would be protected, but back then we had no inkling that it would be. After attending that event, I approached Barbara Glaser to get more involved in the effort.
What did you first get involved with on the farm?
Let's see, the spring and summer of 2017, I worked on the priorities of getting the Community Gardens up and running, dug some of the ditches behind Bill's Barn to install underground below frost level water lines, and helped erect the High Tunnel in time for the 2017 Fire Feast. It's evolved from there. I'd been retired for a number of years and I'm someone who likes to be physically active and this property means a lot to me and to the community, so it just seemed like a good place to spend my time. If I'm not working in my own garden at home, this is where I like to be.
Most days I see you, you are doing something physical. Tell us what that outlet means to you?
I enjoy variety and working with Rich (Torkelson) or whatever crew is assembled to get a job done. I've painted the Garden Shed, most of Bill's Barn and now the new bathroom. I helped Rich with the new coolers this season. There's no one better to work with, Rich is so knowledgable and so it's an opportunity to learn a lot. His taste in music though, however, does get a bit old after six weeks working on the coolers!
How does that compare to your career?
My job was mostly an office and travel position - it was a dream job. I worked for New York State Parks and had responsibility for the Bureau of Historic Sites with properties that ranged from ranged from Planting Fields Arboretum on Long Island in Oyster Bay to Old Fort Niagara, and from Crown Point to Philipse Manor in Yonkers. I worked with 50 talented people -- conservators, curators, collection managers, archeologists, restoration architects, exhibit designers and fabricators on my team. For as long as we were married, I was involved in the sweat equity of home ownership and gardening and my job allowed for a lot of creativity but not a lot of physical effort. To transfer the experience from my career to a project like this is great, but also to help make it happen and not just write it down is what I prefer.
What do you hope most for the future of the farm?
The obvious is to keep expanding the Community Gardens and farm production to the extent there is a demand from the community. I'd like to see us expand the Giving Garden. We've just begun to tap into the potential of that initiative. Broadening the base of community involvement with development of our trails and programs. Restoration of our buildings and the creation of a space to tell our history. I hope to see more people connected to and knowlegeable about what we are doing here. It's a special place and a therapeutic place because of the combination of the interaction and relationships you build here.
If you see Jim out there (and you will), say hello!
A resident of Saratoga Springs for almost forty years, Jim spent most of his career at the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (aka NYS Parks) as director of the Bureau of Historic Sites and the Peebles Island Resource Center. After retirement, he joined the board of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation to advocate for and protect the city’s architectural and cultural landscape resources. He feels that Pitney Meadows Community Farm, as one of the last farms and significant open spaces within the city, is a unique community asset deserving of special attention and sensitive adaptive reuse.