The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is working to save 198 acres of open land near the intersection of Routes 85 and 85A in the Town of New Scotland. A century ago, Charles Bender cultivated prized melons on this land. Today, the former Bender Melon Farm is one of the few undeveloped tracts separating suburban development in Slingerlands and Voorheesville.
Cyclists and walkers on Albany County’s Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail know this land by the curious overhead bridge that once connected fields on either side of the train tracks. Even more striking is the beautiful vista of the Helderberg Escarpment over rolling fields. The Bender Melon Farm offers the only open view of the escarpment along the Rail Trail that is named for it. It would be painfully ironic to lose this view someday to a housing development.
MHLC’s goal is to raise $1.2 million to permanently protect the Bender Melon Farm. In the future, this land might extend and complement New Scotland’s Captain Joseph Hilton Town Park, with its historic barn. A protected Bender Melon Farm might provide opportunities to grow and market fresh produce, offer mountain-biking or other recreational activities for day-trippers, or connect the Rail Trail with local businesses on Route 85. But many generous donors are needed to help MHLC realize this vision.
MHLC has applied for state funding through the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s Environmental Protection Fund Grants Program for Parks.
But even if MHLC is awarded one of these highly competitive grants, the campaign to Save Bender Melon Farm will only be successful with support from local residents.
If you treasure the Rail Trail and its surrounding landscape, prioritize farms and forests over new suburban development, and want to protect the special places that link us to our local history and natural environment — tell your friends, tell your elected officials, and please give generously to the Save Bender Melon Farm campaign at mohawkhudson.org