On January 17, 2024

Pittsford Village Farm gets new grant to undergo construction this year

By Katy Savage

Courtesy Pittsford Village Farm|
Architectural renderings of the planned
renovation at Pittsford Village Farm,
located in the center of  Pittsford.
Plans include a child care center in a
portion of the 19th-century farmhouse.

Baird Morgan has been interested in the farmhouse in the center of Pittsford for the past 30 years.

His interest in the Pittsford Village Farm dates back to the mid-1990s, when Morgan was on the Pittsford planning commission.

“We had a series of meetings with what the townspeople wanted to see, what the town would look like 20-30 years into the future,” Morgan said. “One problem was Route 7 bifurcates the middle of the town.”

That created a need for a community space, and the 20-acre farm property, in the dead center of Pittsford, was seen as an ideal piece of land. 

“We didn’t want to see big box stores or housing developments in the center of town that might detract from what we saw as being a primary community space,” Morgan said. 

 A nonprofit was formed in 2001. Baird Morgan and his wife, Betsy Morgan, tried to buy the property as a gift to the community in the early 2000s but weren’t successful in negotiating with the former owner.

It wasn’t until shortly after the owner died in 2015 that the Morgans were able to purchase the  property with the 8,000 square-foot house in 2017.

 Now, Morgan’s vision is finally coming to life. Shortly after purchasing the property, the Morgans gave it to the community and a nonprofit board formed to started asking residents what they wanted to see. 

The property will  undergo a $3.5 million renovation this year. Once complete, the three-story farm house will be the site of a community gathering space for up to 45 people, with a kitchen and bathroom. There will be a childcare center for 26 infants and toddlers on the first floor, with an outdoor play area; and two affordable two-bedroom apartments on the top floor.

“One of the things we didn’t envision, 30 years ago, was an outdoor entertainment venue for the summer,” Baird Morgan said. 

Courtesy Pittsford Village Farm|
Architectural renderings of the planned
renovation at Pittsford Village Farm

Board members of the Pittsford Village Farm held 22 outdoor events last year, including a concert series, monthly garden gatherings and workshops, a potluck harvest dinner, an artifact roadshow, bird walks, and a touch-a-truck event.

The  property is considered a birding hotspot by the National Audubon Society, with its vast wetlands. The land also connects to the Pittsford Trail Network and offers a community garden space, a children’s play area, picnic tables, a covered pavilion and a knoll with views.

The Paramount Theatre uses the property as an outdoor venue in the summertime, too. And the Maclure Library in Pittsford will soon do the same. 

“It’s more than just a community center, it’s really a place — it’s a wonderful place for people to gather,” Morgan said.

They’ve raised $2.5 million toward the estimated $3.5 million project and recently secured a $450,000 grant from the state. 

Gov. Phil Scott announced Jan. 11 that the farm was one of 40 in the fourth and final round of Community Recovery and Revitalization Program (CRRP) grant winners.

Those 40 approved projects are expected to support 1,810 existing jobs, enable the creation of 117 new jobs, build or rehabilitate 75 housing units, and add 60 new childcare slots, according to Scott.

“The Community Recovery and Revitalization Program has helped dozens of communities bring much-needed capital projects to life,” Scott said in a press release. “These investments are a great use of one-time funding that will benefit Vermonters for years to come.”

In total, the $40 million CRRP program has supported 125 projects over the course of four rounds of funding. 

The property is not just going to serve Pittsford. Board members want to have a venue that will be attractive for people all over Rutland County.

“We’re thrilled to be getting so much support in different directions,” said Samantha Stone, the farm’s director of outreach and communications. “It really validates what we believe in.” 

Stone, who lives close to the farm, used to work for the New York City parks department before she moved back to Vermont 17 years ago.

“I moved back here to raise my kids here,” she said. “Having these community spaces is an essential part of a vibrant community. It’s a resource for everyone in Pittsford to utilize.” 

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