Thursday, 14 September 2017 12:36

Girl Scouts Collaborate at Pitney Farm

Photos provided by Dan Forbush and GSNENY.

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Pitney Farm has had a very busy summer with numerous activities and projects. The Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York (GSNENY) teamed up with them to create a fairy village. The GSNENY also kept busy this summer at the farm by painting rock markers, creating scarecrows, planting sunflowers, and growing food for Franklin Community Center. When it came time to create their fairy village, the Girl Scouts used natural materials such as bark, stones, and twigs.

“Girl Scouts in Brownies had the opportunity to earn the painting badge and outdoor art creator badge in a program at the farm on Saturday, Aug. 26. Juniors had the opportunity to earn the drawing badge and the outdoor art explorer badge on the same day. The last requirement for both Brownies and Juniors on the outdoor art badge is to design with nature. The fairy house decorating project fits in perfectly to complete the badge,” said Jess Clauser, Girl Scout leader at Dorothy Nolan Elementary, who is leading the art program in the Community Gardens.

 “The Girl Scouts are an important and delightful aspect of the garden. They are full of enthusiasm and spirit. My goal is to share the love of gardening I developed as a young person with others and hopefully they will enjoy being in nature, growing healthy food, and get a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in preparing foods that they have had a hand in growing with their families and friends,” said Natalie Walsh, Gardens Director.

Walsh has been the garden's director since the spring and her responsibilities include overseeing the development of the gardens.

The GSNENY fairy village will be on display Saturday, Sept. 16 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

“For the fairy house/garden decorating project each girl will get a small wood birdhouse as their starting off point. The houses have been pre-painted with milk paint and approved for use by Natalie. The houses are many different shapes and painted many different colors. The girls will decorate the houses, and then come to the event and the farm to place them into the fairy garden. The first event will be a fairy tea party! The girls can dress up or wear their fairy or butterfly wings if they own them, but it is not mandatory,” Clauser said.

Snacks such as cakes, cookies, and sandwiches will be provided at the fairy tea party and each girl will take a picture with their fairy house. They will have the opportunity to pick out a place in the fairy garden and situate their house.

“I have been involved in every aspect from the planting of the first seeds, to the construction of the raised beds, organizing volunteers, reaching out to the community and more. I have helped new gardeners get started, taught gardening skills on Saturday mornings, planned and planted the sunflower fields, organized events and publicity, and met with community members to let people know what a wonderful resource exists here. Each day is different,” Walsh explained.

Also at Pitney Farm this summer, community organizations such as the Mentoring Group, Saratoga Bridges, Saratoga Transitional Services, the Girl Scouts came regularly and worked in the garden.

“The farm under community ownership is brand new this year and the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York got in on the ground floor. Our first project was painting and decorating rocks for the herb garden,” said Clauser.

“In fact,” Walsh said, “Saratoga Bridges has helped me harvest food that I then deliver to the Franklin Community Center’s food pantry. Community supporting community. That’s a big part of the Community Garden’s mission. We are currently working on creating even more community involvements through the schools and senior center.”

This summer, Pitney Farm also ran a series of classes for adults on gardening and art classes for children to experience the garden through painting and drawing.

There are several children activities in the garden, including, a mini farm created by Judy Brunner. A pasture with fences and a pond with many animals you’d see on a farm surround this mini farm.

The garden also had much success with their food production; many tomatoes, kale, Swiss chard, tomatillos, herbs, melons, pumpkins, and much more had healthy crops.

In the spring, community members planted their own Mammoth sunflower seed, which they tended to all summer.

“Now the plants are fully grown and will be measured at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday the 16th. They are measured for height. The tallest wins,” Walsh said.

The Pitney Farm also rehabilitated their old barn this summer with the help of many community members, Habitat for Humanity, and students from local schools.

The Community Garden has more planned for the fall and they need volunteers to help make it happen. If you’re interested, visit www.pitneymeadowscommunityfarm.org for more information.

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