NY Family Forced to Sell Farm After 240 Years, 7 Generations
A New York family is forced to sell one of the oldest family farms in the country after 240 years and seven generations.
Hull-O Farms in Durham has been in the Hull Family since John Hull started the farm 240 years ago. For half a century, Frank Hull 71, and his wife, Sherry, 67, have owned and operated the 280-acre farm in the Catskills. The family is being forced to sell because they can no longer handle the physical labor needed to make enough money to pay for the rising costs of the farm, according to an extensive profile in the New York Times.
"We don’t want to leave the land,” Sherry Hull told the Times. “But we’re running out of options.”
The Hulls have kept farming to honor their family's legacy, but say they haven't taken a vacation in nearly 50 years and have very little savings.
“If Frank stops working, he feels he’s letting his relatives down and that the whole family line is broken,” Hull said to the Times. "I know it doesn’t make sense because they’re dead, but you feel like you have a commitment to carry on what every one of them has done successfully in the past. We have one nostril above water and nothing to live on."
Hull went on to tell the Times, "We have no pension because we’ve put every penny we’ve made back into the farm. I tell people, ‘We’re standing on our 401(k).’ And now, it looks like the farm has to close so we can survive."
For many decades the Hulls were mostly dairy farmers. By the late 1980s, the family sold many cows and changed up their business model. They offered guests a farm-vacation. Vistors would stay on the farm, eat meals from the farm and also help with chores.
Guests hand-milk cows and goats, feed the pigs, bottle-feed a variety of small farm animals and collect eggs on a farm, according to the farm's Facebook. In the fall there is a corn maze on the farm and a Christmas farmhouse in December.
The farm was built in 1779. It features a three-story center hall, a second house and barn complex on 286 acres, over 3 miles of frontage, four-acre pond and generates over $300,000 in income, Realtor.com reports.
The Hulls' four sons all grew up working on the farm, but none want to take over running the farm, the New York Times reports.