SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Thursday, October 20, over 150 guests attended Saratoga PLAN’s first-ever PLAN for the Future event. The fundraiser was held at the Juniper Springs Event Barn in Corinth, showcasing the southern Palmerton Range with peak foliage as the sun set over the southern foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. Over $100,000 was raised, supporting Saratoga PLAN’s ongoing land conservation and stewardship efforts across Saratoga County.

Guests were treated to an expansive selection of delicious libations and bites including an autumnal specialty cocktail, the Orchard Palmer, featuring honeycrisp vodka from regional distillery 1911 Sprits, local craft beer and wine from Artisanal Beer Works, Common Roots Brewery, Adirondack Winery and Old Tavern Farm, and offerings from Chef David Britton’s roving food truck, Pies on Wheels, such as wood-fired pizza and farm-to-fork dishes like zucchini parmesan featuring ingredients from Pleasant Valley Farm in Argyle, and chicken with tikka masala rub from Full Circle Farm in the Hudson Valley. The sounds of live jazz music by local musician Jonathan Greene’s band, Grand Boubousse, filled the barn as guests mingled about and the evening concluded with sweet treats donated by local baker, Leah Stein of Leah’s Cakery located in Round Lake.

PLAN’s new Executive Director, Rob Davies, warmly welcomed guests to the venue and shared his story about how he transitioned earlier this year from being a DEC State Forester for 22 years to working in nonprofit land conservation in the Saratoga Region. He commented on the shift he has seen in the conservation field, saying, “The future of conservation today is protecting family farms and wood lots in our communities across the state. It is protecting those special open spaces in our backyards where we live, work, and play every day that form the character and quality of life of our communities that are under so much pressure today.”

Individuals who have made a large effort in protecting those very same areas in Saratoga County by donating land to Saratoga PLAN in 2022 are named Conservation Heroes. Five heroes were celebrated at the PLAN for the Future event, including father and son, Paul and Brett Bolesh who conserved their 50-acre farm in Northumberland with Saratoga PLAN earlier this year.

In a video played at the event, Paul Bolesh spoke of the disconnect between children and land and how his grandchildren learn where food comes from by helping on their family farm. “Saratoga PLAN’s mission impacts not only the world that we all know and love but the world that our children and future generations will steward,” said Saratoga PLAN board member, Jessica Schwartzman. “I believe that supporting land conservation means investing in the future, and I am proud to see our community come together to champion and elevate this critical work.”

The event also honored two Conservation Champions—individuals recognized for their dedication and extraordinary contributions to conservation during their lifetime. Tim Barnett, former Executive Director of the Adirondack Chapter for the Nature Conservancy and former Saratoga PLAN emeritus board member, and Phyllis Aldrich, former PLAN board member and mother of Will Aldrich, landowner of Tupelo Community Forest, were the two honorees.

Will Aldrich ended his video speaking of his mom’s contributions to the community and himself with a call to action. “Now is a very important moment to get involved in the cause of protecting these beautiful open spaces in our county,” said Will Aldrich. “As part of the PLAN for the Future, I hope that each of you finds a way to lean in generously and to give of your time, talent, and your treasure to Saratoga PLAN to help sustain this mission and carry it forward.” These remarks segued into a successful paddle raise led by auctioneer Tom Stebbins which raised funds for the host organization.