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Landmark farms in Plaistow and Dover undergoing changes

Union Leader Correspondent

June 01. 2014 9:56PM
After decades of hard work, Richard and Lucine Goudreault said they're ready to put their feet up and relax a bit. The couple said they hope to find a buyer who will continue to use the 26-acre property for agriculture, but are open to all options. Richard, 79, joked that the work has kept a spring in his step. "I'm a young 80," he said of his upcoming August birthday. "It must be the action." MIKE LAWRENCE 

David Goudreault acknowledged the challenges facing his parents as they try to sell the family’s landmark 26-acre farm in Plaistow, but suggested that the listing might not indicate the sky-is-falling-on-small-farms story that people might expect.

“People are supporting local farms more than ever,” said Goudreault, who manages the Macfarlane Greenhouse Facility at the University of New Hampshire. “I think if my parents were 20 years younger, they wouldn’t be making this move.”

His parents, Richard and Lucine Goudreault, have intensified their efforts to sell the Goudreault Farm and Greenhouse on Newton Road, or Route 108 in Plaistow. They’ve lived on the property since 1962, when Richard’s parents moved the family there, and have owned it since 1978. David grew up on the farm. Richard, 79, confirmed Thursday that they’re asking for $1.45 million, and said they’ve spoken with a few potential buyers.

“Most of them are here for agriculture,” Richard said. “We haven’t gone to the developers yet.”

“We hope that it remains in farming,” Lucine added.

Meanwhile, staff at Tendercrop Farm at the Red Barn in Dover — on land that the Tuttle family had farmed since 1632, which was touted as the country’s oldest family farm and featured the well-known Tuttle’s Red Barn store — said the renovated store and greenhouse are going strong since opening under the new management March 15.

“The Tuttle tradition continues here — it’s just under different ownership,” manager Tyler Matteson said.

The sale of the 135-acre farm was finalized in October. Matteson said preparations for the opening continued right up to March 14, and the transition is ongoing.

“The renovation process took longer than we thought,” he said. “It’ll end up being a focus for us for the next couple of years.”

Tendercrop also owns and operates a farm and store in Newbury, Mass.Growing fieldDavid Goudreault said Thursday that from what he sees at the college level, interest in small-scale farming is growing.

“The number of students coming into our program in sustainable agriculture is increasing every year,” he said. “There’s a lot of students who are interested in where their food comes from. …Sustainability in general has kind of been a word that’s captured the population. I think young people are very in tune with that.”

But whether that translates into a new generation of small-scale farmers, he said, is anybody’s guess. He noted that the number of small farms in New England has been decreasing for decades amid development pressure, the spread of big-box grocery stores and a changing industry marked by “food coming from all over the country and all over the world.”

“Many greenhouses in northeastern Massachusetts and southeastern New Hampshire have gone out of business in the past decade. It’s gotten very competitive,” he said. “There’s a lot of transition going on in agriculture, horticulture and floriculture.”

He said the diversity of his parents’ farm has kept it going strong, along with the trust and loyalty they’ve built with customers. David said age has been his parents’ primary reason for trying to sell the property, an effort that was stalled by the economic downturn in 2008.

Richard Goudreault said he and Lucine haven’t had problems convincing potential buyers of their property’s potential, citing their reputation for exceptional, personalized service and specialty greenhouse products.

“They’ve seen how successful we’ve been here,” he said, before cracking a grin. “But I don’t think they want to work that hard.”

At the Tendercrop Farm location in Dover, Matteson said former owners Lucy and Bill Tuttle remain involved with the store.

“Lucy is here almost every day,” Matteson said. “They’ve been very supportive.”

Bill Tuttle was doing a little shopping himself Thursday afternoon, and spoke positively about the transition and new ownership.

“I’m really excited,” Tuttle said. “They’ve got fresh young minds and they’re good people.”

Tuttle noted that Tendercrop has several new features — such as a large meat counter — that weren’t offered at the Red Barn.

“I’m a keen observer of what’s going on here, and I love it,” he said.

Should the Goudreault Farm sell, Richard might remain a hands-on former owner, as well — his love of agriculture was evident Thursday as he called out a tip for newspaper readers.

“Tell ‘em the sweet corn’s up,” he said, meaning the crop is out of the ground and on the way to picking later this summer. “I know people are anxious. I am, too — it was a long winter.”

Business Dover Plaistow

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