Matt and Louise Have Bought the Farm

Date published: March 3rd, 2016 | By Susan

Last summer was a wonderful time for me. I felt much gratitude to still be working and playing with children and adult leaders, farmers and big kids, in familiar and new ways. I was acutely aware that it was my 40th summer at Longacre Farm, a milestone for me. 

Appropriately, leadership has shifted here. I felt blessed to be working with two 30-something business partners. Matt and Louise are dedicated, forward-thinking, hard-working, and focused. They make me a better director.

Honestly they and the wonderful staff we gather together each season are the answers to a terrific challenge facing all small business owners as they approach the end of their careers. Who will carry on this mission, this baby I have made my life's work? At times this was a heavy weight. I did not have the answer to that question for the last 15 years. Now I do.

At the end of last summer I asked Louise and Matt to buy me out of my 1/3 partnership share of Longacre, the summer program. And it followed that they would, additionally, buy Rog and me out of the almost-200 acres, the entire farm. It did not make sense for us to be the landlords and they the tenants.

So we began the task of untangling a corporation and a partnership started in the early 1970s, a complicated process. We had many meetings to bang out the details of this agreement. We continued to speak openly and honestly with one another, in the ways we have always tried to practice and teach. Direct communication: not just a slogan.

My goal was a graceful transfer of assets and responsibilities. And I think we did it.

In October, I ceased to be an owner of Longacre, the summer program. In February, Rog and I sold all our Pennsylvania real estate to Matt and Louise. They own Longacre Farm and we are now tenants in our home. And it feels great.

I am still a little stunned that we have effected this transition. This is an adjustment. It is still sinking in. I have many feelings, but the overwhelming sense I have is of profound gratitude.

I come into work with Louise and Matt every day, putting in about 25 hours a week. I do what I have always done at Longacre, with some more time in my week for my beloved gardens and ongoing knitting projects. I do other volunteer work that is satisfying to me.

And I am excited about my 41st summer coming up, right around the corner, a fresh opportunity to build uncommon community with kids and adults at Longacre. Lucky me.