Pitney Meadows Community Farm Receives Land Trust Alliance Grant to Launch "Explore to Learn" Conservation Engagement Program

Pitney Meadows Community Farm is proud to announce its receipt of a prestigious grant from the Land Trust Alliance, allocated through the Conservation Partnership Program. Governor Kathy Hochul's recent announcement of over $3 million for 64 projects statewide underscores New York State's commitment to protecting water quality, preserving farmland, enhancing outdoor recreation, and conserving open space. Pitney Meadows Community Farm is one of the fortunate recipients, receiving a Catalyst Grant of $85,240 to launch the innovative "Explore to Learn" program in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Ndakinna Education Center.

"The Conservation Partnership Program grants are a critical component to preserving our State's natural beauty and enhancing local communities," stated Governor Hochul. "With this increased funding, we are extending the reach and effectiveness of these projects to improve public health, increase tourism, foster sustainable economic development, and empower communities."

Pitney Meadows Community Farm's "Explore to Learn" program is a conservation engagement initiative comprising three components designed to catalyze collaboration, immerse community members in agricultural heritage and regenerative farming practices, and provide hands-on education in natural habitats and agricultural stewardship. In collaboration with the Ndakinna Education Center and Cornell Cooperative Extension, the program aims to welcome hundreds of students and explorers to the farm, fostering environmental stewardship, interdisciplinary learning, and community engagement.

Brooke McConnell, Executive Director of Pitney Meadows Community Farm, expressed her enthusiasm for the "Explore to Learn" program:

"With the support of the Land Trust Alliance, this program will leave a lasting impact on the cultural and environmental consciousness of our community, fostering appreciation, understanding, and unity."

The program's three components include:

1. Indigenous Arts of Life Immersion: Engaging learners of all ages in the Indigenous lifeways of the original peoples of the land, offering workshops in tracking, poetry and storytelling, and language and song led by experts from the Ndakinna Education Center. Our farm is part of a wide area whose lands and waters were cared for by the Algonkian people known as the Mahican for over ten thousand years. About fifteen hundred years ago, a group of Iroquoian-speaking people, the Kanien-ke-haka (Mohawk) migrated to the area. Both nations regarded the area surrounding Saratoga Springs sacred. Because of the mineral springs with healing waters, it was considered an area of peace to be shared by all. 

Art of Seeing - Seasonal Tracking Workshops with James Bruchac: James Bruchac, a renowned tracker, storyteller, and wilderness skills expert, will immerse participants of all ages in the world of tracking and nature observation. Through these workshops, participants will learn to recognize the signs left by various regional mammals across the changing seasons. With Pitney Meadow's expansive 166 acres, including 30 wooded acres, as their classroom, participants will not only acquire tracking skills but also gain a deep understanding of the natural landscapes and the creatures that inhabit them. Mr. Bruchac will incorporate regional Native lore, sensory activities, and methods of natural movement into the curriculum, enriching participants' overall connection with the natural world.

Art of Remembering: Introduction to the Eastern Algonquian Language Family with Jesse Bowman Bruchac: Do you know how to say "Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg?" This workshop series is an engaging and educational program for all ages at Pitney Meadows Community Farm, featuring Jesse  Bowman Bruchac, a dedicated expert in Algonquian language reclamation with over three decades of experience. Jesse will bring the Algonquian language to life through fun activities that make learning memorable for everyone. Experience the joy of "gamifying" and "songifying" the learning process, making it easy and enjoyable to remember words and their deep meanings. Listen to some of Jesse's unique learning songs and explore the profound connections between Algonquian words and the natural world. Gain insights into the perspectives of our region's original people and learn how these languages offer a unique lens on nature.

Writing with the Land with Joseph Bruchac: Poetry Workshops with Joseph Bruchac: Saratoga Springs' first poet laureate, Joseph Bruchac, will immerse participants in the inspiring natural environment of Pitney Meadows. These workshops will be tailored to accommodate diverse age groups and varying levels of literary experience. Participants will explore various poetic forms, including free verse, haiku, and more, drawing inspiration from the ever-changing seasons and the farm's breathtaking landscape. Each participant will leave a work of poetry inspired by our land.

2. Cultivating Connections: Sustaining Heritage through Interpretive Signage: A comprehensive signage program integrating informative signage throughout the farm, emphasizing regenerative farming practices, identification of native flora and fauna, and honoring the cultural heritage of the Abenaki and Mahican peoples.

3. Growing Minds: A Living Classroom Experience: In collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension, we will be bridging classroom-based agricultural lessons with real-life experiences on the working farm, facilitating hands-on learning opportunities for students through public school field trips and volunteer days.

Click here to explore these upcoming workshops!

"The interpretative signage program will significantly enhance the visitor experience at Pitney Meadows Community Farm, fostering a deeper connection to the land, promoting sustainable practices, and honoring the cultural heritage of the Abenaki and Mahican people and their histories," said McConnell.

Pitney Meadows Community Farm extends its gratitude to the Land Trust Alliance, Governor Kathy Hochul, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for their support in making the "Explore to Learn" program a reality.

Explore to Learn programming will be supported with funding from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) and New York's Environmental Protection Fund. The NYSCPP is administered by the Land Trust Alliance, in coordination with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

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