Tour de Farm on WAMC!

Be sure to tune in Tuesday (tomorrow!) for the Roundtable on WAMC!

Teri Ptacek, executive director of ASA, and Maria Trabka, executive director of Saratoga P.L.A.N., join Joe Donahue on the Roundtable to talk about Tour de Farm!


Tour de History

“Tour de Farm” is perhaps a slight misnomer, because the ride rolls through areas rich with significant historical influence.  “Tour de Farm and History” better represents the tour, but is also a mouthful!  On the tour, not only will you see farms, but also many Revolutionary War historic sites.

In 1777, American soldiers fought two fierce battled against the British and forced surrender on the land which is now the Saratoga National Historical Park.  According to Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy’s The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: from Marathon to Waterloothe Saratoga Battles rank as the 13th most important battles in world history.

On the 35-mile route, you’ll pass through (and stop by) historic houses, farms and, significant sites of the Saratoga Battles, which include:

The Schuyler House

The Schuyler House is located 8 miles north of the Battlefield.

The Schuyler House is the restored country house of American General Philip J. Schuyler, a hero of the Saratoga Battles, both before and after the Revolutionary War.  The original house was actually burned by the British; the one that stands today was built in 1777.

Sword Surrender Site

“Surrender of General Burgoyne” by John Trumbull, 1822.

Faced with overwhelming numbers, Burgoyne surrendered his sword to General Gates on October 17, 1777.  Burgoyne’s depleted army, some 6,000 men, marched out of its camp “with the Honors of War” and  stacked its weapons along the west bank of the Hudson River at the Field of Grounded Arms.

Freeman Farm Overlook

The view from the former farm site. Although the view is mostly obscured from heavy tree growth, the view remains similar to what it was in 1777.

Major fighting took place on the land leased from farmer John Freeman, a loyalists who went north and joined British forces, on September 19, 1777.

The Neilson House 

From the Neilson House, one has an almost 360-degree view of the battlefield.

Built by John and Lydia Neilson in 1775 or 1776, the infamous General Benedict Arnold used this house as headquarters in 1777.  Today, it looks much the same and will be host to a “Progressive Encampment” during Tour de Farm.

Think you’ll be tired from all that biking? Imagine these soldiers and their families who marched many miles on foot!

The Saratoga National Historical Park was first authorized as a New York State historical preserve in 1927 and was made part of the National Park Service when authorized by Congress in 1938.

A Case for Farmland Conservation.

Twenty-four year old Michael Kilpatrick, of Kilpatrick Family Farm, has been farming in Washington County since he was a fourteen.  He recently shared his testimony to the House Committee on Agriculture for the 2012 Farm Bill on the National Young Farmers’ Coalition blog.  Among many impending issues for young farmers, such as regulation and farmer education, Michael makes a strong case for farmland protection.

As a farmer who leases land on from four different properties, Michael understands the value of making prime farmland affordable.  He says,

Part of America’s greatness is in its amazing soil. It fueled the Westward Expansion, and even now its products are a major part of our exports and competitive edge. Good farmland is not cheap and it is being gobbled up by development companies at an alarming rate–over 1,200,000 acres in 2011 alone. That is 1,200,000 acres that will probably never be farmed again, that is forever lost to urban sprawl, shopping centers, or factories.

He also cites the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program as an essential part of farmland conservation:

Protecting our farmland is also vitally important. The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) administered by the United States Department of Agriculture has been a significant partner in this effort. The main goal of this program should be to protect at risk, working farmland for active agricultural production.

The testimony is compelling, well written and worth a read, especially if you’re interested in the issues today’s farmers face.  Read Michael’s full testimony here.

In addition to running a CSA, Kilpatrick Family Farm sells at the Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls Farmer’s Market, as well as resturants Beekman Street Bistro, 50 South, and Four Seasons Natural Foods.

New stop this year!

Riders on the 35-mile route are in for a treat this year when we stop at the beautiful 40-year old, 400-acre McMahon Thoroughbred Farm!

Saratoga Springs is renowned for it’s rich history, but is perhaps most well known for the Saratoga Race Course.  Open since 1864, the Saratoga Race Course became wildly popular among the rich and famous, already flocking to Saratoga from New York City for its natural mineral springs.

The combination of the glamourous racetrack, casino, and an ever-growing number of resorts and spas made Saratoga Springs the perfect getaway for the wealthy of the Victorian Era.

Read more about the history of horse racing in Saratoga Springs!

In defense of land conservation funding.

Round Lake, a property protected by Saratoga P.L.A.N. Photo by Bob Lippman.

In conserving the land, we also conserve the farmers and foresters who work on and with it.  Vermont resident Alice H. Wells makes the case for land conservation funding and environmental education in a Burlington Free Press “My Turn” column.  Although she calls upon the Vermont state government and its people to invest in the land, her column speaks to anyone concerned with land stewardship, healthy agriculture and forestry practices, and the welfare of our future generations.

Quincy Farm!

We are proud to announce Quincy Farm as a new stop this year for Tour de Farm!  Quincy Farm is a 49 acre vegetable farm and CSA along the Hudson River run by Luke Deikis and Cara Fraver in Schaghticoke, NY.

Quincy Farm in early fall.

The story behind Quincy Farm is one of growing relevance.  Previously known as Battleview Farm, the land has been in continuous agricultural production since 1777 and had been owned by the Wright family until 2010, when they made the decision to sell. Luke and Cara’s four-year quest to find healthy, affordable farmland ended when they approached the Open Space Institute and the Agricultural Stewardship Association for help.  Making the farm affordable, OSI and ASA were able to place a conservation easement on the land to ensure that the land continues to be farmed for the next 233 years and beyond.  Last year, Luke and Cara sold their produce at three area farmer’s markets.  This year, they’re offering CSA shares as well!

Luke and Cara on the Farm!

Check out Quincy Farm’s awesome website for great information on the history of the land, their farm blog, and how to track down the veggies they growClick here to learn more about how Quincy Farm is being conserved.