In 2009, TCAH became the first community-based organization in New York City to effectively create its own “farm to pantry” distribution loop with the opening of Saratoga Urban Agro-Ecological Center. This farm was established as a 2,000 sq. ft. victory garden that produced approximately 2,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables annually, but has since become a model urban farm encompassing 7,900 sq. ft.and producing roughly 7,000 pounds of produce each farm season.
The focal point of this space is the Saratoga Hoophouse. Installed in 2013, it is the combined efforts of a number of corporate and local volunteers. This structure helps to extend our growing season by using heat from the sun to keep our crops alive during colder weather. For example, we are able to begin growing as early as March and continue to harvest as late as December. With the hoophouse in place, the Saratoga Urban Agro-Ecological Center has become the perfect setting for teaching important farming skills, as the warmer climate provided by the hoophouse also allows us to offer gardening classes on the farm throughout the winter.
The thousands of pounds of produce harvested from the Saratoga Agro-Ecological Center help to improve the quality of food available to the community. Fruits and vegetables grown on our farms are distributed through our SuperPantry, sold to local restaurants, and sold directly to residents at heavily-discounted prices during our Saratoga Farmers’ Market. Any unused or spoiled produce is used to create sustainable soil-enriching compost.
Similar to our Far Rock location, the Saratoga Urban Agro-Ecological Center is operated and maintained by our Green Teens, employees of a year-long internship program, which exposes local teens to skills involving farming, leadership, teamwork, and communication