Pack baskets with the Santagates

A bicycle mailbox marks the driveway of Tracy and Nick Santagate. The Santagates are Paul Smith’s alumni and well-known in the community.

For many Paul Smith’s students, visiting the Santagates is like being a kid in a candy shop. Pumpkins twist across the lawn. A lean-to surrounded by Adirondack chairs sets against the edge of the woods. Vibrant tomatoes hang from their vines.

Interested in homesteading, sustainable living, boat making, gardening, herbal medicine, compost heated shower systems, and/or basket making? This is the place to visit. And to me, it’s a source of inspiration.

The first time I toured the Santagate’s estate, I was a student at Paul Smith’s. Tracy greeted my renewable energy class with a plate of chocolate chip cookies on a snowy March day. During our visit, she told a story about going to the bank to get a loan. She and Nick were just beginning to build their home and they didn’t have much credit. So, she brought a plate of chocolate chip cookies and handed them to the banker. The message was simple: Pleases, thank you’s and small gestures of kindness go a long way.