How Sap Bush Hollow Farm Meets the Challenge of Cooperating Across Generations

If there’s a romantic image that tugs at our heart strings as much as the thought of homegrown tomatoes, it’s the multi-generational family farm. In a culture that has spurned the union of the generations — that frowns upon the thirty-something living in his parents’ basement, mocks the new family who moves in with Grandma, offers condolence to the empty nesters who take in an aging parent, builds television sitcoms about the interpersonal conflicts between married couples and the in-laws, and peddles financial products to discourage elders from ever being a “burden,” the family farm has been America’s great exception to the now-expected independent nuclear unit. Farms proudly advertise the number of generations who have lived on the same land; signs are hung on the side of barns to commemorate the 100th continuous year of business within the same family; awards are handed out, stories written, legends passed down within rural communities celebrating the differences from father to son, mother to daughter. And in an era when the rest of the country is discovering that breaking ourselves into nuclear units is coming at an ecological, financial and emotional cost, the multi-generational family farm feels like the last cultural example we can turn to as a reminder of what might make for a viable future, whether the multiple generations are in the city, the suburbs, or on the land. But this week I heard three painful stories about the tensions among the agrar

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