STRATHAM— Scamman Farm’s The agritourism business, which includes its popular corn maze, will not be returning this fall as owners Kirk Scamman and Sue Fernholz plan to retire.
Scamman said fall 2021 saw a “great season” for the business run by Scamman and Fernholz at the farm on Route 108, even following a devastating fire in May that claimed their historic barn, 300 chickens and other properties on the farm.
However, Scamman said land-related “problems” created uncertainty for him and Fernholz, declining to elaborate further. They’ve run the agritourism business for 14 years, with the farmland itself owned by Scamman’s parents, Doug and Stella.
“The future of the business, as well as the location of the maze, was too unknown for us to bet our lives on,” Kirk Scamman said. He said he had “no idea” about the future of the property, adding: “We decided we had to take care of ourselves.”
Doug Scamman said that he and his father bought the historic farm with his barns and hundreds of acres in 1972, and that he left the entire farm when his father died in 1995. He said this week he had no plans to sell the property.
“When my father died, his will left me the farm,” Scamman said. “I worked on the farm for years, and it was active, and he wanted me to keep it going. I hope it will continue later after my death.
Kirk Scamman said other factors played into the decision, which was made at the end of the fall season. He said they also dealt with trespassers and crop damage, and indicated that his feelings had changed about the job, saying, “If you don’t like it, there’s no reason to do it. It’s a lot of hard work.
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He said he has since taken up employment with the City of Exeter, and at 57 he said he was looking forward to retirement in 10 years. Fernholz, who has always worked full-time in addition to the farm, went to work at a veterinary practice, he said.
“It was a wonderful experience, and the relationships we’ve built with our customers will stay with us forever,” said Kirk Scamman. “The decision to close our agritourism business was not an easy choice.”
‘Thank you from the heart’
Fernholz announced the news on Facebook this week “with a heavy heart”, explaining to customers that they “will no longer be doing the corn maze, the pumpkins or the market” at their farmhouse at 69 Portsmouth Avenue.
“We loved getting to know all of your families and watching you grow! ” she wrote. “We sincerely thank you for your 14 years of support throughout our efforts. We will truly miss seeing your faces, hearing your stories and laughing with you. We were lucky to be able to be part of your lives. Thank you from the heart.”
Ownership of the farm and many of its buildings date back centuries. His farm was built in 1776 and the farm was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019. The Scammans operated it as a dairy farm known as Bittersweet Farm after the 1972 purchase.
While running their farm with their twin sons Kirk and Karl, over the years Doug and Stella opened the Agway store in 1984. They also became involved in New Hampshire politics. Both were elected to the House of Representatives, with Doug serving as Speaker of the House for a time and presidential candidates speaking on the farm.
Eventually, Karl Scamman will take over running the store – which will remain open – while Kirk and Susan farm the land, establishing Scamman Farm in 2010.
The couple grew pumpkins and hay and were committed to preserving agriculture through agritourism, inviting the community to share in the experience. They also held birthday parties and group receptions there, hosting high school and UNH students.
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Each fall, Kirk and Susan provided a professionally cut six-acre corn maze at Scamman Farm, with miles of winding paths inside to delight maze-goers each fall. He was associated with mountains of pumpkins in his pumpkin shack, as well as games, treats and farm animals for all to enjoy. Additionally, they provided an annual photo opportunity for parents of many children to measure “How Tall This Fall.”
But on May 11, 2021, a fire destroyed all four stories of Scamman Farm, an 80-foot-long barn built in 1836. Firefighters were able to save the newly renovated English-style barn built in 1750, but not before the fire does not spread outside.
In September 2021, Scamman said the fire had kept them from operating the farm stand over the summer and he hoped to repair two of the damaged buildings by spring, with plans to rebuild the dairy barn. once these two projects are completed over the coming winter. .
“We’re going to take the winter to figure out what our needs are (for the new barn),” Scamman said at the time.