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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.
Between 1940 and 1969, the number of active farm operations in Saratoga County plummeted from 2,591 to just 595. This trend was in part a response to the increased mechanization of farming that made agricultural less labor-intensive and tended toward a larger scale for individual farms, and in part a response to pressure from the demand for residential real estate in suburbs and countryside. The post- World War II housing boom stimulated by the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 and the expansion of highways, specifically the creation of Interstate 87 leading northward from Albany through Saratoga County (completed in circa 1961), promoted the latter trend.
Saratoga County began to become a bedroom community for Albany region commuters, at least in a corridor extending along the Interstate. As of 2010, agriculture persists as a primary economic enterprise in the our community, concentrating on dairy, equine, and apple orchard activity.
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 Hanahan Road in the Town of Saratoga