Harcum Family hopes to save iconic Mardela Springs farm

A GoFundMe page has been created to help the Harcum Faily of Mardela Springs save their 15th-generation farm.

A plea for money to save the iconic Beechnut Farm, owned and operated by the Harcum family for 350 years, was answered with donations totaling nearly $3,000 by mid-week, but much more is needed.

Family member Rebecca Harcum created a GoFundMe page and set the goal at $600,000.

“If my family is unable to pay off the dairy debt owed by Beechnut Farm, (approximately $750,000 when my grandfather, William Blan Harcum Sr., passed away in February of 2016), my grandfather’s estate will start selling our family’s heritage piece by piece,” she wrote on the GoFundMe page, above a photograph of Harcums from the 13th, 14th and 15th generations.

“In addition to losing nearly 400 years of family history, losing the family farm means my parents would be homeless and the decades my father, William Blan Harcum Jr., sacrificed busting his back, dusk to dawn, 365 days a year, living an extremely frugal lifestyle, would leave him with very little to show for it,” she wrote.

The entreaty for funds was met with concern from friends.

“So glad to be able to do my small part to help this family. I have known the Harcum family all my life. Mrs. Harcum was my 6th grade teacher and I went to school and college with Lee. Wish I could do more to help,” Janet Lynn Hatkin posted on Facebook.

“I haven’t been able to sleep since I saw this. I cleaned the house for Mrs. Harcum many years ago. I helped her with her garden. First time I ever used a machete, I nearly cut my right thumb nail off. I made an attempt to ride Moon and I did, till I ended up on the ground,” stated Daisey Myers.

“I grew up around the Harcums. They were my parents’ friends,” Robin Horner recalled.

The community’s generosity is much appreciated, Rebecca Harcum wrote, promising all donations will go directly to paying off the debt.

As an example of her family’s involvement, she recalled field trips elementary school students took to the farm from 1989 to 2015 and shared a child’s stick figure drawing, written as a thank-you note with the words, “Dear Farmer Harcum. Thank you for giving us milk to drink.”

Field trips ended in 2015 because it was difficult to find volunteers to help and the cost of cleaning and safeguarding became too high.

The Harcum clan has, indeed, been plagued with heartbreak.

In July 2015, 31-year-old Trey Harcum, the son of William Harcum Jr., was convicted of murdering his uncle, 62-year-old Lee Harcum, during a fight in a watermelon patch on the farm.

Lee Harcum was beaten to death with a pin from a piece of farm equipment.

A flurry of police cars rushed to the scene, where Trey Harcum was arrested, his long hair blowing over one eye and brushing the hood of a dark blue, unzipped jacket

He was handcuffed, charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree assault and second-degree assault. He was jailed without bond and, later, imprisoned.

He told authorities his uncle had thrown a watermelon at him, striking him in the back of the head and knocking him down, and that he feared for his life. It was either going to be his uncle or him, he said, according to charging documents.

Inciting shock, the documents contained information about the two getting into a physical fight and the 62-year-uncle being discovered face down in that watermelon field, trauma to his head so severe he was pronounced dead.

The Harcum patriarch, William Blan Harcum Sr., died in 2016. He was 92.

Still, the family persevered.

“Dad and I continue to work as hard as possible to save our family’s farm; however, this truly seems to be our last hope!!!  Please help my family save our home and preserve our heritage!” Rebecca Harcum wrote.

“It breaks my heart thinking we might lose Beechnut Farm, which has been in the family since the 1600s …  it takes all the blood, sweat and tears you have working the land day in and day out.

“But my family wouldn’t know how to function any other way.”

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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