AUBURN – Whiting Farm has closed, six years after reopening to the delight of the local gardening community.
The reason? Officials at John F. Murphy Homes, which runs the farm, say the recent pandemic-induced labor crisis has left them with too few workers.
The cessation of operations at Whiting Farm, the society wrote in a press release, helps realign resources to advance the agency’s core mission of providing supports and services to children and adults with autism, intellectual disorders and other developmental disorders.
The farm, at 824 Summer St., was closed Feb. 4.
John F. Murphy Homes, an Auburn-based service organization, purchased the property just before Christmas in 2015, with plans to open as a community farm.
The Auburn landmark closed in May 2013 after 76 years in operation. Elmer Whiting, known as Farmer Whiting to generations of patrons, decided he could no longer operate the farm. His brother and partner, Buster, died last December and no family members have come forward to take his place.
When John F. Murphy Homes purchased the business, the plan was to operate it alongside its mission to house, feed, educate and support people with physical and intellectual disabilities. The move was celebrated within the local gardening community, which for decades had flocked to Whiting Farm for their growing needs.
In its press release on Thursday, a spokesperson for the organization said the workforce crisis was associated with ongoing funding issues in the disability sector, prompting the decision to close. .
Although the farm is closed to the public, John F. Murphy Homes will continue to maintain the property.
“It has been an honor for us to keep this resource available to the entire community,” wrote CEO Todd Goodwin. “We have appreciated the goodwill and support of the Whiting family and all of the friends, neighbors, volunteers and staff who have worked tirelessly to maintain this local institution.”
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