When Andal Sundaramurthy signed the lease on her forever farm in Wilmot, she borrowed her Aunt Cathy’s tractor and drove it down from the family homestead and three miles along Route 4A to get to work.
She borrowed a plow, made ready some land and planted seed potatoes. Last year, she grew some 20 different crops — from asparagus and strawberries to potatoes and carrots.
Andal now has a new Kubota L3301 tractor named Bonnie and a 1948 Ford 8N named Clyde. She is leasing-to-own these 15 acres, has acquired and assembled high tunnels for starts and crops, and has established an irrigation system. Her CSA, the first and only one in Wilmot, doubled in size this year.
The nonprofit Land For Good helped Andal negotiate and finalize the 10-year lease on this farm. Land For Good is based in Keene and works across New England. Its mission: “To ensure the future of farming in New England by putting more farmers more securely on more land.” Land For Good helps improve farmers’ access to land and works with farms in transition to continue the legacy to a new generation — as it did recently with the Haynes Dairy in Claremont.
New England produces just 12 percent of the food it consumes, with just 5 percent of land in agricultural production. Some 30 percent of New Hampshire farmers are at or older than retirement age — and many have no farm succession or transfer plan. Recent supply chain disruptions brought on by a global pandemic made clear how vital local food production and supply are to community well-being.
Last year, Andal sold her produce at her roadside stand, at a farmers’ market and through her CSA — and to the New Hampshire Food Bank, through its “New Hampshire Feeding New Hampshire” program.
Andal grew up in New London and attended local public schools. After college, she decided that she wanted to farm in her home state. Her search for land spanned nearly a decade, during which time she learned her trade working on New England farms.
“All these farmers are going out of business and all these people are buying land and not farming it,” Andal said.
Now, this small corner of New Hampshire is under cultivation, with a young farmer growing fresh food for the community.