retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Boston Globe this morning reports that Tuttle Farm, near Dover, New Hampshire, is up for sale, the victim of suburban sprawl, changing agricultural economics, the recession, and the simple, inexorable passage of time.

In this case, the time is considerable. Tuttle Farm, the Globe writes, has “passed from father to son since 1632 and billed as the country’s oldest continually operating family farm.”

According to the story, federal statistic show that the nation lost more than four million acres of farmland to development between 2002 and 2007, “an area roughly the size of Massachusetts. Since 1982, the nation has lost more than 41 million acres of rural land. Massachusetts has lost 24 percent of its prime farmland since 1982, more than all but four states ... The 134-acre property, which is listed for $3.35 million, has been slowly surrounded by suburban homes and is bordered by a major street. It is protected by a conservation restriction that prohibits it from being developed after it is sold, and the Tuttles hold out hope that the new owners will maintain it as a working farm. But they are quick to acknowledge that, even with a new niche market for local produce, working a small farm these days can be a tough row to hoe.”
KC's View:
While it seems that the “buy local” movement simply wasn’t enough to keep the Tuttle Farm in the family, it is worth noting that in the Globe story, it is indicated that Will and Michelle Tuttle, who have been working the farm for decades, do not own a cell phone and do not have an email address. (The farm does have a website, but to be honest, it is one of the least inspiring sites I’ve seen in a long time - it should be vivid with nostalgia and vibrant with e-commerce possibilities, and it is none of these things.) Time and tradition are important, but no substitute for keeping and current and aggressively selling.

One other note. I hope the Tuttles are able to sell the place, though it may be tough if there are limitations on what new owners can do with it.