126 Acres of Historic Brookdale Farm Protected in Perpetuity
Saratoga PLAN completed two conservation easements with the Pott and VanVorsts families permanently protecting 126 acres of farmland in the Saratoga County Town of Ballston. Conservation of this fertile farmland means it will be forever available for farming and critical wildlife habitat for generations to come.
Both easements include land originally part of the Brookdale Farm, which originated circa 1835 by the McKnight family, a relative of the Potts by marriage four generations prior. The Brookdale Farm is thought to be the original 1800’s hops farm on Hop City Road where wagons were filled with the farm’s hops and transported to breweries in Albany. In addition to hops, the farm also had Merino sheep and dairy cattle, and produced hay and corn.
In 1977, the Pott family purchased 25 acres of the Brookdale Farm which included the historic farmhouse. While living on the property the Potts were active in participating in agrarian life; foaling, raising and training saddle and draft horses, maintaining chickens for eggs and meat, and raising ducks and rabbits. Joan Pott recounts early life on the farm and her children’s upbringing with fondness: “Our children raised and showed Merino sheep in 4-H and the Saratoga County Fair. Our son took second place in the New York State Tractor Competition at Empire State Farm Days! Our daughter won an award presented by Governor Pataki at the Northeast Draft Horse Show with her team of Haflingers.”
With admiration for the farm and the family’s background in farming, the Potts were determined to preserve the rest of the farm. In 1982, they approached another local farming family, the VanVorsts, to join forces and purchase the remaining 101 acres available of the original farm.
The VanVorst family has run Brookbound Farm since it was settled in the 1760’s. It is currently operated by J. Andrew Van Vorst and Emma Lewis-Van Vorst, the seventh and eighth generations, respectively. Emma remarks that, “With suburban pressure on all sides, it is critical to the continuing operation of the farm to utilize all the land we presently have, both owned and leased…Our goal is to preserve the land our family has lived on for over 250 years and give the next generation the opportunity to farm if they wish.”
Not only is there rich agricultural value to the land but the Mourningkill Stream which runs through the property is teeming with beaver, muskrats, mink, turtles, and trout periodically stocked by the State of NY. Mrs. Pott has had many wildlife sightings from her farmhouse including coyotes, deer, bears, Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Bald Eagles, and Red Tail Hawks.
“The conservation of the Brookdale Farm is a wonderful feat and is a culmination of New York State Agriculture and Markets and two farming family’s steadfastness to preserving the agrarian way of life, scenic views of horse pastures, and rolling productive farmland that Saratoga is so famously known for. It was a pleasure to work with the Potts and VanVorsts to preserve their farmland as they transition it to the next generation.” said PLAN’s Conservation Project Manager, Tori Roberts.
Funding from New York State Agriculture and Markets supported the permanent conservation of this property.