Pittsford Village Farm to start construction on new pavilion


BAIRD MORGAN STANDS at the future site of a new pavilion at Pittsford Village Farm. Photo by Mat Clouser

PITTSFORD — One aspect of rural life that city folk often misunderstand is the sense of community. It’s almost counterintuitive; a less is more kind of deal. It might seem like living in a place with fewer people—take Pittsford, for example—would mean fewer interactions with people overall. While that may be partially true, it’s the quality of those interactions that lead to a sense of place and community that can’t be found as easily in the anonymous drone of city life.

Since 2018, the Pittsford Village Farm (PVF) has looked to put that sense of place and community front and center. After 15 years of negotiating, which included founding a 501 (c) (3) back in 2003, Baird Morgan was able to purchase the farm with the town’s blessing so long as he and his partners kept focused on agricultural, economic, and community-related endeavors.

Those community endeavors got some good news recently with the announcement of a $22,000 Better Places grant program, an initiative of the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development and the Vermont Community Foundation. The statewide program “empowers Vermonters to create vibrant and inclusive public places in the hearts of Vermont communities.” 

The grant, done in partnership with the Maclure library, will be used to create a new pavilion for outdoor activities and entertainment. Library Directory Shelly Williams expressed her enthusiasm for the pavilion, saying, “It’s going to open up a lot of programming opportunities for the library.” 

Williams said the library doesn’t have a tone of space, so giving kids the opportunity to run outside is critical. “It’s a gorgeous piece of property,” said Williams, “but it lacks trees. It’s going to be fabulous to have shelter over there.” 

In a laser-focused campaign to raise the necessary funds to qualify for the grant, PBF was given a 60-day window to secure its match. Members of the greater Pittsford community rallied to the cause, raising more than $11,000 to qualify for their portion of the matching funds. Funds which Morgan said came in amounts as little as $10. “We got all sorts of people putting money into the hat,” said Morgan. One donation even came from a woman Morgan dated back in 1961 and hadn’t spoken to in years.

Construction of the Pavilion will start in late September, and there will be a dedication of the building in late October. 

In keeping with the sense of community, Casella Construction is donating employees and equipment to prepare the site and finish the concrete work; Joseph P. Carrara and Sons and Gagnon Lumber are providing a discount on concrete and lumber for the structure, and Chuck Charbonneau is donating labor to do the actual construction.

As for future plans, Morgan says there’s always a lot going on and that he has long-term dreams for moving and refurbishing the barn to create an events center, although he says “that’s so far down the line it’s ridiculous.” 

Less ridiculous, however, are the plans to renovate the old farmhouse to include a community center for library overflow, community meetings, and afterschool programs; an early childhood education center; and apartments on the top floor. “We want to make this a first-class operation,” said Morgan, adding that he’s still working to determine how PVF will raise funds for the approximately $2 million-dollar renovation project.

Baird, who also helped start the Pittsford trail system back in the 70s, said that whatever they do, it will be done with an eye on preserving what they have as opposed to developing anything larger. “We bought [the farm] so that it would be preserved as a natural landscape in perpetuity,” he said. “Selfishly, we did it because we wanted to see it look like this forever.” 

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