If you enjoy touring rural areas by car, you should try it from a bicycle some time.
At a more leisurely pace, out in the open air, you can see more, smell more, feel more. And you’ll have a chance to do just that on Aug. 22, when two land protection organizations, Saratoga PLAN and the Washington County-based Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA), join with the Saratoga National Historic Park to host the Saratoga Battlefield Landscapes Tour de Farm.
In the last 10 years, the two groups have been able to save thousands of acres of farmland, on both sides of the Hudson River, through conservation easements, which help pay a farmer’s property taxes if he agrees not to sell his land and keep it in production. Without these easements, also known as purchase of development rights, many farmers would find it harder and harder to pay taxes as their land increases in value, and harder to resist when some commercial or residential developer offers them a bundle of money for it.
The new GlobalFoundries chip plant will only increase the heavy development pressure already being felt in Saratoga County, not only in mid-county but in the still relatively unspoiled parts to the east and west as well.
The area around Saratoga National Historic Park is particularly unspoiled — from the park, the Hudson River and the lands around and beyond it look pretty much as they did during the seminal battles of 1777 — and that is no accident. It’s because the National Park Service has a plan to protect the view shed, and because Saratoga PLAN and ASA have done so much to make that plan a reality by preserving farms.
On Aug 22, bicyclists will have a chance to learn about the plan and those farms, and the importance of saving them through conservation easements, farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture, etc. Whether serious cyclist or casual rider, the goal should be to make sure there is still, from the Hudson to the Battenkill, plenty of farmland to see and pedal through.