Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Pitney Meadows Community Farm Demonstrates Our Sustainable Future Is Today

This is the world we can build. We can address climate change alongside other issues.
It’s not going to cost you a ton of money. It might save you money.
We’ll have cleaner air. We’ll have more energy security.
” – Dr. Hannah Ritchie

High Peaks Solar designed and built a 34-kW photovoltaic system, with 36 kilowatts of inverter capacity and 148 kWh of battery storage, working with the Farm and its builders on the placement of its new pole barn to maximize energy production. (High Peaks Solar)

Mike Bailey

Over 166 acres in the heart of Saratoga Springs, New York – and seven years after it harvested its first lettuce, kale, and beans – Pitney Meadows is proving itself anew as the very model of an energy-smart, sustainable farm.

The quote above, from a NY Times interview of University of Oxford researcher Dr. Hannah Ritchie promoting a positive narrative of the future, could have been about Pitney Meadows Farm. Like Dr. Ritchie’s views about sustainability in food supply, agriculture, energy, and environment, its mission is to celebrate and explore agricultural education, healthy food production, and recreation.

Aerial view of the farm

The Farm offers many ways to engage with both the land and other members of the community. That includes more than 100 plots and the support of an on-site garden manager for its Community Garden, CSA memberships where you can pick, taste, and learn to cook new varieties of vegetables, a farm store open dawn to dusk seven days a week, and an accessible trail system that circles the farm for walkers, runners, bikers, and dogs on leashes.

“We view our farm and everything we do here as an educational opportunity,” said Executive Director Brooke McConnell.

The Farm also strengthens the community through its Food Sovereignty Program. This program includes the donation of about 40% of all crops grown to a collaborative of local community-based organizations serving individuals and families facing food insecurity. That translates to about 100,000 servings of nutrient-dense produce annually to food pantries and other social service organizations in the region.

In addition, the program includes its Sovereign Gardens Initiative, which empowers local organizations serving food insecure individuals to develop and maintain on-site gardens. This program aims to create a lasting impact on the resiliency of the local food system, providing access to fresh, whole foods that can have a direct impact on health, economic prospects, and educational outcomes. Through its NutritionRx program with the Saratoga Community Health Center, healthcare providers give patients struggling with chronic diseases the nutrient-dense produce and culinary education they need to improve its health.

McConnell said, “As a mission-driven nonprofit organization, we are able to dedicate funds to innovations in farming practices, models, and demonstrations. We invite farmers in the region to learn more about our solar project and its potential viability on its land and with its operation. We’re happy to share our resources and knowledge about the process.”

Everything Grows Better with Sunlight

Only one section of the Pitney Meadows property is connected to the electric grid, leaving much of the farming operations area dependent on several large gasoline powered generators to provide power to seven large surface pumps for the irrigation of four high tunnels and all the acreage of cropped land.

Growing good food and great community (Pitney Meadows Community Farm)

At odds with its sustainability goals, the leadership of Pitney Meadows saw solar panels as just another way to harvest the clean energy of the sun to grow its community farm and the essential programs the staff and volunteers provide. The Board of Directors decided to move forward with an off-grid PV installation and the City of Saratoga Springs provided the initial investment with a $150,000 grant towards the solar array. High Peaks Solar designed and built a 34-kW photovoltaic system, with 36 kilowatts of inverter capacity and 148 kWh of battery storage, working with the Farm and its builders on the placement of its new pole barn to maximize energy production. The system allows for expansion of the dedicated wash pack facility and additional pumps for increased acreage production in the future.

With the renewable energy system eliminating noise and emissions from the generators, the working conditions have greatly improved for the farm team. According to Farm Manager Ian Magnus, “The evolution of solar power has made it more attractive to small farms as a practical option for running essential field equipment such as well pumps and greenhouses.”

A Bright Future

The Farm’s strategic plan will take several years, many volunteer hours, and generous donations from individuals, foundations, and businesses to fully implement. Under the direction of Brooke McConnell, they continue to grow and develop new programs, creating a dynamic, inclusive, and resilient community that thrives on a shared commitment to the well-being of the environment and each other.

We are committed to being good stewards of the land and serving the community that invested its own tax dollars to preserve the Farm as open space. Together, we seek innovative ways to not only sustain our agricultural endeavors but to also sow the seeds of a more vibrant, compassionate, and interconnected community.”

With its cherished farm landscape, cluster of rustic gray barns, large open farm field, and acres of woodlands and wetlands, the Pitney Meadows Community Farm is alive with creativity and active engagement, offering a productive and joyful place for volunteers, employees, and visitors. They will certainly remain a key part of Saratoga Springs for generations to come.

Pitney Meadows Community Farm is located at 223 West Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY. Its website is The farm can be reached at (518) 290-0008 or

Mike Bailey is a sustainable energy consultant and a trustee of SolarFest, Inc.

To see this article in a pdf file, as it appears in print, please click HERE.

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