SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY — November 2, 2023 — Local land trust Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature) is happy to announce the permanent protection of the historic 221-acre Ropitzky family farms located in the Town of Stillwater. This land, once under intense development pressure, has been permanently protected under conservation easements held by Saratoga PLAN. The conserved land has a rich agricultural history, dating back to the pre-Revolutionary War era. 

The Ropitzky family’s farmland traces its roots to 1926 when Peter Ropitzky, after emigrating to the United States from Ukraine in 1915, purchased his first farm with the savings from working in a Cohoes machine shop. He had a deep passion for the farming industry, made various improvements, and successfully managed the farm, even acquiring a neighboring 135-acre farm in the early 1930s. In 1942, Peter Ropitzky’s son, Steven Ropitzky, joined the operation and expanded it by raising Guernsey dairy cattle and growing surplus crops of hay, sweet corn, and rye straw to meet the growing demands of the local horse and human population. 

Continuing this legacy, Steven’s son, also named Steven, represents the third generation. He currently manages 75 to 80 acres of cropland, with a primary focus on hay for the horse market, sweet corn, and pumpkins. Additionally, Steven and his two sisters, Carol and Diane, rent approximately 130 acres of cropland to a neighboring dairy farm. There, they primarily grow hay crop silage, along with some field corn, to support their sizable dairy herd. 

Steven Ropitzky expressed his dedication to agriculture and the future of farming, stating, “I want to have the land available for future agricultural production. I can’t farm forever, and it is important to me that the resource is available for those who want to farm in the future… This conservation easement allows us to carry on the legacy of our family’s commitment to agriculture on our farms.” 

Easements like this one play a vital role in preserving agricultural lands, permanently restricting development by removing development rights from the deed, ensuring the long-term protection of farmland by limiting subdivision and non-farm uses. 

Agriculture Conservation Easements have several benefits for the community: 

  • Farmland generates more in taxes than it utilizes in services, thereby reducing property taxes for all residents.
  • Ensures a local supply of fresh and secure food, particularly significant given the disruptions in food chains during events like the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the importance of resilient local food systems.
  • Well-managed agricultural lands offer various environmental services, including air purification and surface water cleansing, reduced stormwater runoff and flooding, replenishment of groundwater reserves, provision of wildlife and pollination habitats, moderation of winter and summer climates, and efficient carbon sequestration, which is 66 times less greenhouse gas-intensive than developed lands according to the American Farmland Trust’s Greener Fields Report.

Saratoga PLAN is dedicated to protecting the region’s natural and cultural resources, and the conservation easement on the Ropitzky family farmland represents a significant step toward this goal. “Preserving these family farms is about protecting land, history, and securing a sustainable, vibrant community for the future. It’s a testament to the vital benefits and character that farms provide, with a commitment to ensure they continue to nourish both the land and the community for generations to come,” said Robert Davies, PLAN’s Executive Director. The organization is committed to fostering responsible land use, safeguarding local food supplies, and preserving environmental resources for current and future generations.  

Funding from New York State Agriculture and Markets supported the permanent conservation of this property.