July 29, 2013

Gorham family farm wins honor after growing for 243 years

Run by six generations of one family, Long View Farm receives the first Heritage Farm Award.

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

GORHAM - Albert Mosher points out the improvements he has made to the family's Long View Farm, where the family has lived off the land since his great-great-great-grandfather bought it 243 years ago.

click image to enlarge

Albert Mosher is the sixth generation to own and operate Long View Farm in Gorham.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Run by six generations of one family, Long View Farm receives the first Heritage Farm Award.

Beth Quimby/Staff Writer

Mosher, 85, said he was eager to do things his own way when he took over the 140 acres on the Presumpscot River -- and a stately white 1810 clapboard house -- from his father, Albert Sr., in 1967.

He put up a line of sheds. He removed some old orchards. He sold off the 140-head dairy herd in 1987 and started growing sweet corn sold to the public at a stand at the end of the driveway at Mosher Road and Main Street.

"I am proud of the history, but it doesn't run my life," said Mosher, who also sells hay.

The farm is one of just a few farms that have been continuously worked by the same family since New England was first settled, said Mosher.

The farm's rich history was celebrated Sunday by the Cumberland County Farm Bureau, which presented the Mosher family its first Heritage Farm Award. About 40 family members and friends gathered at Long View on Sunday to admire a granite post marking the farm as an award recipient.

"This is to recognize those who have stood up to the pressure to develop and keep the farm in production," said Ben Hartwell, president of the Cumberland County Farm Bureau.

The Moshers are among Gorham's founding families. Daniel Mosher moved to Gorham in 1738, two years after the town was first settled.

Albert Mosher said he found signs of the foundation of what may have been the original residence next to the farm pond. The existing farmhouse is filled with family relics, such as a fine mahogany table built by his father, hooked rugs and photos of bewhiskered ancestors.

A lot of the family belongings were lost when the barn and adjoining buildings were destroyed in a fire set by an arsonist in 2004.

Mosher, a former Gorham town councilor whose father, Albert Sr., was a state legislator, said the farm remains dear to family members even long after they move away.

"You want to see a crowd, come on Thanksgiving Day. There will be 50 people who come from Florida and California," said Mark Mosher, who lives down the road from Albert, his father.

But who in the next generation will take on the farm remains up in the air.

Mark Mosher, 59, is the most likely of his two other siblings to take over the farm, but nothing has been decided. He runs the corn stand now, while his father continues to run the haying business.

His sister, Elizabeth Hilton, has her arms full with a dairy farm in Norridgewock and his brother, Timothy Mosher, works at Boeing in Seattle.

Mark Mosher said there have been different ideas for the next phase for the farm, such as a bed and breakfast. But with his generation getting near retirement, the enthusiasm for starting any new venture has cooled, he said.

He said his son, Ben, who is a software developer for video games in San Francisco, has talked about moving back and setting up shop in a wing of the house.

"It all depends on finances and what the price of hay is," said Mark Mosher.

For now, said Albert Mosher, he doesn't foresee any big changes. He said except for the roads, which became busy with cars after World War II, the farm would be fairly recognizable to his great-great-great grandfather. The original fields of rich, rock-free soil look much like they must have appeared to the first Moshers who cleared them.

"There's not a lot that is different," said Mosher.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

bquimby@pressherald.com

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