Members of the Tuller family have been farming the land in West Simsbury, Connecticut for over 240 years, since 1768. While Tulmeadow Farm has always been a diversified family farm, it hasn’t always been named “Tulmeadow”. In earlier days, a farm was simply named after the farmer who was cultivating its land, but in the first half of the 1900’s, Tulmeadow Farm was known as Basswood Farm, named after several large basswood trees that were growing around the houses and barns on the land.
O. D. Tuller purchased a number of purebred Holstein Dairy Cattle to raise on the farm in the 1950’s. He wanted to register the calves that were born from these cows with the Holstein Association USA using the farm name as the prefix of the calves registered name. He discovered that “Basswood” was already a prefix of another dairy farms’ animals, hence, a field north of the cow barn known as “Tuller Meadow” became the foundation of the name “Tulmeadow”.
Adapting to New Markets
Many New England farms were diversified, growing a variety of crops, and producing multiple farm products. Our farm was, and is no exception. Broad leaf tobacco, capons, cider-brandy, butter, eggs, apples, Christmas trees and firewood are some of products that have been grown and harvested over the years.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the farm raised 2400 chickens for the eggs that they produced and milked 70-75 dairy cows. We raised forage crops to feed them and managed approximately 6 acres of apple trees. By the early 1980’s, egg production was phased out. In 1983 the we felt that we were at a crossroads and either had to expand the dairy, or move the farm in a new direction. We decided not to expand the dairy, but while continuing to milk the cows, we would develop a direct marketing enterprise.
We planted a large vegetable garden, and started selling vegetables from a road-side table located near the front of the current farm store. The make-shift stand was self-service, using a cigar box for customers to leave payment. As the farm stand grew and evolved, we bought a used 20×96 foot greenhouse and erected it on the site that a large chicken house had occupied.
The Future is Bright
The retail business continues to grow, and soon outgrew the self service farm stand and evolved into the current farm store. In the early 1990’s, we started to look into other ways to expand the business. We explored cheese and yogurt making, and then ice cream. Deciding on ice cream production, we began collecting equipment, and in 1994, decided to go for it making ice cream for sale at the farm store. Since then, retail farm store business has continued to evolve and grow.
Preserving Tulmeadow Farm
We have been working with the Simsbury Land Trust to see to it that the land we have farmed for over 240 years will stay in agriculture forever. Two phases have been completed so far. All of the open farmland is now covered by an easement filed with the land records in Simsbury, Connecticut, protecting the property from being developed. The Land Trust is now raising money to “Finish The Farm”, and protect the 73 acre woodlot the Tullers maintain as a healthy forest. If you would like to help or find out more, please contact the Simsbury Land Trust.