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Farm next to Saratoga site has new owners

EASTON -- Job Wright couldn't have picked a worse time to start a farm. Luke Deikis and Cara Fraver's timing wasn't much better 200-plus years later.

During record flooding along the upper Hudson River last spring, the couple closed on their purchase of the Wright family farm, located on land that Wright bought on the eve of the Revolutionary War, when the Battles of Saratoga were fought on the opposite bank.

"It was not hard to think we were making a bad mistake at that point," Deikis recalled of the day in late April when the Brooklyn transplants acquired the farm -- and needed hip waders to get into their flooded bottomland along the river.

Five months later, things are looking better if still slightly soggy for the newlyweds' 49-acre vegetable farm in Easton, on the Hudson's east bank 20 miles north of Albany. The farm, the couple's first, is just across the river from the Saratoga National Historical Park, scene of battles fought in September and October 1777.

Two land conservation organizations helped them buy the Washington County property, which can be viewed from the bluffs at the park. Besides conserving farmland and continuing a two-century-old tradition of cultivation on the property, Deikis and Fraver's venture helps protect the nearby battlefield's scenic view, which appears much as it did when the Americans defeated the British in what turned out to be one of history's most important battles.

Although no fighting occurred on the land, it's likely some troops of the British and American armies marched across Wright's property during and after the battles, said Eric Schnitzer, a park ranger and historian at the Saratoga Battlefield.

Wright's riverfront parcel was "definitely hopping with spies and scouts and foragers," Schnitzer said.

Deikis and Fraver, who were married in September, approached the Open Space Institute for help buying the Wright farm after visiting the property last year. The New York City-based national conservation organization bought the farm for its appraised value of $285,000.

The Washington County-based Agricultural Stewardship Association holds a conservation easement on the Wright farm, with the easement valued at $95,000. That dropped the farm's price to its agricultural value of $190,000, the final purchase price.

"It's an honor to be part of a history of a farm like this, and an honor to continue to farm it," Fraver said.

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