Oldest U.S. Farm to Be Sold - But Not Developed

The owners of the country's oldest family farm are getting out after "only" 378 years. And while America's small farms are vanishing acre by acre, this historic spread will have a better fate, as CBS News correspondent Russ Mitchell reports.

The farm was a king's grant from England in 1632. And there has been a Tuttle on this land ever since.

"Just clearing the land must have been a massive undertaking," said farmer Bill Tuttle "Ii can't imagine it."

The farm - near Dover, N.H. - has passed down through eleven generations of Tuttles, making it the oldest family farm in the United States. The current owner, 63-year-old Bill Tuttle, started working here when he was six. Now he says it's time to sell.

"We are tired emotionally, mentally exhausted and we are ready to walk into the sunset," he said.

Tuttle and his sister Lucy are joint owners of Tuttle's red barn, a roadside market on the 130-acre farm. Their children have no interest in running it -- so the farm is on the market for more than $3 million.

The Tuttles are certainly not alone. Family run farms may be a vital part of America's heritage, but since 1945 their number has decreased by 63 percent, from about 6 million after the war to just over 2 million today.

Family farms have been snapped up by corporate mega farms or housing developers. From 2002 to 2007 more than four million acres were converted.

The Tuttles have made sure that won't happen by putting their land into permanent conservancy -meaning it can only be used for agriculture.

"It's not going to be houses, condos or shopping malls," Bill Tuttle said.

But the decision to give up the farm that's been in his family - in his blood - for so many generations wasn't easy for Bill Tuttle. So he won't be going far.

He's moving next door, "So we will have the enjoyment of looking at it, maybe occasionally trespass on it but not the burden of having to do day-to-day operation of it."

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

On Twitter

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download
The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App