The story behind Futtner’s Family Farm in East Hartford and South Windsor is so entrenched in the American Dream, it’s downright Rockwellian.
Now, 100 years after the family sowed its first seeds, the fourth generation of Futtners, James and Honora, accepted the Century Farm Award during the 102nd Plant Science Day at the CT Agricultural Experiment Station in Hamden on Aug. 1.
It’s something few, if anyone, would have contemplated when James Futtner’s great-grandfather Beasso Futtner emigrated from Italy to the U.S. with his new bride in 1880, moved to the Greater Hartford area in the 1890 and started buying land in East Hartford.
"The part blows me away is my great grandfather brought over my great-grandmother on their honeymoon not knowing the language, and they slowly learned the language and just kept plugging away and made it work," James Futtner said.
Futtner Family Farm first started out growing tobacco before converting to carrots and cabbage, according to Honora Futtner, who was setting up the farm’s stand at the South Windsor Historical Society Farmers Market on Sunday.
Four generations of Futtners later, the 25-acre farm still yields fresh vegetables, from sweet corn to squash, to lettuce, to potatoes to broccoli to cabbage to kale and cucumbers. The farm also includes a “Pick-Your-Own” operation for various vegetables and also features a roadside stand that is open seven months of the year.
“I think its fantastic,” Honora Futtner said of receiving the award. “It’s a real tribute to [James Futtner’s great-grandfather] who started a hard, new life. He was unfamiliar with the terrain, the customs and the language and he built this business that lasted four generations.”
Sadly, the realities of the wholesale farm business make it unlikely that there will be a fifth generation of Futtners to run the farm.
Honora and James have four children, none of whom have shown much of an interest in agriculture.
“It’s almost impossible to make a living now,” Honora said. “The industry for wholesale vegetables requires stringent rules that makes it costly and difficult to comply by. Our kids have seen us working seven days a week during the summer and, when there’s no income during the winter, we work five days a week.”
Not that Honora is complaining.
“Every vocation has its drawbacks,” she said. “The appreciation we get from our customers is really nice. … It’s a hard living, but it’s fresh air, exercise, sunshine and rain. A lot of people appreciate the taste and flavor of fresh vegetables from Connecticut soil. This is some of the best soil in the world.”
For more information on the farm, visit www.futtnerfarm.com.