Even the earliest travelers noted the promise in the land at Saratoga. The broad, fertile plain, bound by mountains, promised bountiful fruits to those willing to work the landscape. Saratoga’s rural character is defined in part by the past and present farms and farmers that make up this community.
After the Civil War, international demand for American agricultural products declined. The number of farms operating in Saratoga County went from 4,471 in 1880 to 3,611 in 1911 and then to 2,417 in 1930. Acreage actively employed in agriculture declined from 461,446 acres in 1880 to 259,324 in 1930, just 56% of the earlier level. Similar decline took place locally in industry in the 1920s, as mill owners began to disassemble their operations and transfer them to the American South where prevailing wage levels were much lower.
Farms and farmland remain cornerstones of our community, linking the past to the future through a landscape of fields and pastures, stone walls and weathered barns shaped by generations of hard-working farm families. This landscape, cherished by so many, is often taken for granted. Some of its benefits are obvious-the joy of seeing the foals in the fields in the spring, bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer and fall months; and milk and dairy products year-round. Other benefits are less obvious-the local revenue and jobs farms provide, the recreational and tourism opportunities they create, the wildlife habitat and other environmental benefits they offer. Some benefits are easily quantified; many are not. The benefit that may be most valued by Saratoga residents is the ephemeral “quality of life” that farms help to provide.
Photo Credit: A late summer sunrise along Sweet Road in the Town of Saratoga. August, 2015