Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

July 11, 2013

Out to pasture

End of an era for Strawberry Hill Farm

Every day, Peter Loosigian drives to Andover from his home in Pelham, N.H., to walk around the farm he grew up on.

The fields are now filled with wildflowers. A single row of rhubarb, growing where his father planted the perennial several years ago, has sprouted up through the fertile soil.

The Strawberry Hill Farm stand at 254 Lowell St., once bustling with activity, is now closed. An assortment of plows, pulled by old tractors or Loosigian’s even older late father, are collecting dust inside several buildings scattered across the 10 acres of softly rolling land.

Over the winter, Loosigian’s father — longtime farmer and namesake Peter Ohan Loosigian — passed away after suffering a debilitating stroke at the age of 91.

His son, 58, inherited the property and is now wrestling with its future.

“I’m still here, walking around,” Loosigian said on a recent, sunny day. “I was going to mow the fields, but my wife said, ‘Don’t mow them. There are wildflowers and milkweed and the bees and butterflies need something to eat.’ ”

For nearly a century, a Loosigian has tilled, seeded and harvested the Lowell Street land, which is sandwiched between two churches and backs up to a subdivision.

The elder Peter Loosigian worked the farm for most of his 91 years. His mother and father worked it before that.

The younger Peter Loosigian toyed with the idea of carrying on the family tradition, but says it’s just not his thing.

“The way I look at it, it wouldn’t be much of a farm without a farmer,” he said. “My father was Strawberry Hill. My mother ran the farm stand for years. After she passed away, we did what we could without her.

“Now that he has passed away ... I’m just not a farmer. You can’t be a farmer unless it’s in your blood. You can try, but it just wouldn’t work.”

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