After completing the new storywalk at Pitney Meadows Community Farm, 4-year-old Zoe Hwang offered a succinct and supportive review.
“It was great,” she said. “Because the story is kind of fun.”
Kim Miseong, of Niskayuna, brought her daughter, Zoe, to Pitney farm on Wednesday morning to check out the storywalk created in partnership with the Saratoga Springs Public Library. She said she is always looking for activities and programs to do with her young daughter.
The storywalk breaks a children’s book, Cat’s Colors by Airlie Anderson, into smaller sections spread across an easy walk. At each stop of the walk, the next part of the book is printed across a poster planted in the ground, and each stop asks the kids to do an activity. The goal of the storywalk is to combine reading and exercise, said Renee Bennet-Kapusniak, the children’s librarian at Saratoga Springs Public Library.
“It’s incorporating early literacy skills and health literacy skills,” Bennet-Kapusniak said, noting that she was working to find other spots around town for new storywalks. “My goal is to get more community partners to put more storywalks around Saratoga.”
The storyboards at Pitney farm were spread out over a half-mile gravel path between West Avenue and long rows of blooming sunflowers, which sit amid eight acres of planted farm fields. The trail hooks into a longer recreation trail that extends around the perimeter of the community farm and is nearly two miles long. The farm’s trails are open dawn to dusk.
“It’s a very simple story, the colors within the story really incorporates what’s in nature,” she said. “You will use all of your senses, because you will be asked to do all kinds of things.”.
The storywalks also serve the community farm’s goals of promoting agriculture, education and recreation, said Sarah Miles, the education director at Pitney Meadows.
She said the recreation trails at the farm were installed last year ago and noted that as the storywalk remains open through October, the scenery at the farm is in constant flux.
“It’s something fun to do,” Miles said. “It’s also a great time of year to see the landscape change.”
The Saratoga public library has also partnered with Pitney Meadows as a stop for the library’s new bookmobile, making frequent stops for a story time at the farm throughout the summer; the library’s teen specialist has also worked with kids at a program at the community farm this summer.
Pitney Meadows, which closed to the public throughout 2020 due to the pandemic, has sought to get people interested in returning to the farm this summer and fall. The farm has hosted a “pick-your-own” CSA, a farm stand and a slew of other in-person activities. On Sept. 11, the farm will be holding its first-ever “0.5K” fundraiser, which includes a half-mile run, family activities, live music and beer tasting. On Sept. 25, the community farm will host a movie night to show the movie Honeyland; the event will also include bee-keeping activities.
“We are trying to get people onto the farm,” said Pitney Meadows Executive Director Lynn Trizna, who joined the organization one year ago this month.
Michele and Mike Decker joined the storywalk with their 17-month-old granddaughter, Dakota Carkner, the couple’s first grandchild.
“We are trying to expose her to different things we have [in the community],” Michele Decker said. “She loves to read, loves stories.”
When they set out on the half-mile loop, they said they didn’t know how far they would make it. But with a tired-looking, though not-yet-cranky, Dakota still in good spirits, the trio of grandparents and granddaughter finished the entire walk.
“It’s lunchtime and time for a nap,” Michele Decker said after the trio finished the full loop. “We had a really good time. We were really excited when we saw the colored kittens at the end.”