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Home » Farm Women

Heidi Bundy, Tomapo Farm, Lebanon, NH

By Helen Brody (June 16, 2012)

At the top of Storrs Hill from the family farm’s side porch Heidi Bundy looks out over the property that has been in the Storrs – Townsend families since 1769. Below, at the bottom of a grassy lawn, she points out with justifiable pride a nut tree grove that got its start when her great, great grandfather, Amasa Watkins Townsend, planted three hickory nut trees. That was over a hundred years ago. Today, in addition to the hickory trees, there are black walnut and butternut trees at the foot of the hill. Although difficult and time-consuming to shell, the family cherishes the nuts; there is, after all, something to be said for history, and that exquisite flavor.

Looking back now Bruce and Merinda Townsend, owners of Tomapo Farm, Lebanon, New Hampshire, could never have envisioned the vital role their daughter would one day play in the running of their multi-generational farm. When queried recently about her responsibilities she quite modestly answered, “bookkeeper.” However, further into the conversation, one realized her obligations extend far beyond sitting at a desk.

She is a busy farm’s chief contact person for timber and maple sales. During those two busy seasons she can also be found in the woods with her father logging by pulling the logs out of the woods to the wood landing in the barn yard, or clearing brush around the sap lines and making a trail for tractors to pass through.

“Because it fits best into our farm life,” Heidi has been homeschooling her children for over 20 years.  For education beyond high school, she encourages them to find their own way as she herself had to do.  As the daughter of a teacher, she encourages her children to go after as much education as they can acquire.

With the soaring costs of college, Heidi acknowledges that “being a farm family limits us” and advises her brood to research other ways to get a higher education beyond sitting in a college classroom.  Local possibilities like workshops, and on-line courses offer opportunities.

“When I went to college,” Heidi reports, “it was understood that I would receive all the emotional and physical support my parents could give, but I had to dig for the money. My children are in the same boat.”  Heidi ultimately graduated from the Thompson School of Applied Science at the University of New Hampshire with an Associate’s Degree in Forest Technology. She dug, searched, scrounged and ultimately found grants, loans and work study programs.

With the farm covering almost 400 acres, Heidi helps her family keep the property pristine. Having a large part of their land open to the public helps in their efforts to monitor the vast area of woods for vandalism and unwelcome characters.  While the property is not posted against hunting they appreciate hunters who ask permission but do not allow tree stands or wheeled vehicles. Recreation activities of the non-vehicle type are permitted and even encouraged. Then there are the all too common piles of trash left by folks who are looking for a convenient and hidden spot to dispose of their unwanted junk. “It is not unusual,” reports Heidi, “for a skier, hiker, or hunter to report a misdeed and the family is always grateful.” Obviously most visitors respect this vast piece of preserved property in a growing urban area.

While Heidi’s father, Bruce, manages the farm businesses of maple and timber, her husband Dennis works off the farm and her Mom, is retired now after teaching elementary school for 35 years. As Bruce noted, “Those not working on the farm are working for the farm.”

Bruce and Heidi share the farm office. Merinda becomes the contact person when Heidi is off the farm, for instance, when she is selling maple products at the Lebanon Farmers’ Market each week. And, make no mistake, the next generation of Tomapo Farm caretakers are already being groomed.  Always one, two or more of her children accompany her to the market to load and unload the van and to learn how to display and market their products.

Back on the farm, there are the two beehives for which daughter Merinda has great plans. Grandfather Bruce and Heidi’s brother, Dwight, are helping with the hives (one can assume Merinda will be selling her honey at the Lebanon market in the near future).  Heidi, Bruce and Merinda are establishing a raspberry patch that eventually will lead to a pick-your-own business.

“She is our ‘farm girl’,” reports Bruce with unconcealed pride.  Clearly, Merinda mirrors Heidi as her interest in the farm continues to grow.

Reflecting Bruce’s beliefs that those who work off the farm are still supporting it in different ways, Heidi’s oldest daughter Sarah is in the ministry but is researching ways of using the farm to host retreats, concerts, and children’s camps.  Heidi’s oldest son, Nathan, a mechanic, is working off the farm.

Although, as new generations appear, the senior Townsends know that the farm will not be able to support the entire family full time, but as needs arise or holidays come, be assured all the family will jump in to help and be seated at the dining room table. This is indeed a very fortunate and remarkable family.

Tomapo Farm L.L.C.
Bruce and Merinda Townsend                                                
Heidi Bundy, Contact
110 Storrs Hill Road
Lebanon, NH 03766-2312
603-448-1145
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Maple sugar products:
Lebanon Farmers’ Market

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