- Associated Press - Saturday, April 5, 2014

FITCHBURG, Mass. (AP) - Jim Lattanzi is no stranger to hard work. At 29, he has operated a highly successful food-truck business, started a farm in his Hollis Hills home backyard with wife Allison, and expanded the business to include maple sugaring.

The couple, who are expecting their first child in the summer, are taking their business to a whole new level after purchasing Marshall Farm in Fitchburg, and expanding their services beyond home-grown beef, bacon, chicken, eggs and maple syrup.

In addition to providing those services in the farm’s store, they plan on providing apple picking and pumpkins in the fall and full-service breakfast at their state-of-the-art kitchen and restaurant.

The couple had been looking for a place to move their farm for about a year, and Allison Lattanzi said her mother approached her about Marshall Farm being on the market. She said she initially brushed it off, thinking Jim wouldn’t be interested.

The next time he saw his mother-in-law, she told Jim about the farm and a light instantly went off in his head, she said.

“My mother is very involved in this farm,” she said.

Purchasing the 100-acre farm is like coming home for Jim Lattanzi, he said. When he was first getting his food-truck business off the ground, he used to lease kitchen space at Marshall Farm from the owner.

Their retail store will not only sell products from Hollis Hills farm but from other farms in the area, including Carlisle Honey in Tyngsboro.

“We’re looking to revive this place,” he said, while noting he and Allison first began pondering the idea in the fall. “The opportunity just presented itself.”

The couple closed on the property March 25.

Lattanzi said Marshall Farm has a rich history in the city, and it is his hope to bring back some of the historical charm.

“We’re excited to bring this back as an institution to the city of Fitchburg,” he said.

He said for many years in recent history, the farm had moved away from being a fully functioning farm and dabbled in other business ventures.

“We’re looking to change it back to a fully functioning agricultural farm and provide clean food to the community,” he said.

The couple also bought the Marshall homestead, which was built in 1784, and is next to the farm. They plan to move in this spring.

Despite the move, he said, the farm will still have a presence in Lunenburg.

“I still have a ton of crop land in Lunenburg. It’s still a vital part of our business,” he said. That includes fields he hays and maple taps that provide sap for his maple syrup.

Lattanzi was renting the old Ewen’s Sugar Shack in Lunenburg and has since moved the entire operation to the farm and upgraded a lot of the equipment.

The couple said they are appreciative of all they were able to do in Lunenburg and feel they still have a lot to offer.

“We work with excellent landowners in Lunenburg. Lunenburg has always been an agricultural community. You definitely like to see your farm help to maintain that,” he said.

Allison Lattanzi said one of the biggest things they focus on when raising their animals is attention to detail.

“We’re not pushing out animals for the fastest production,” she said. “We maintain our soils and pay close attention to the environment.

She said they use no hormones or antibiotics with their animals.

Jim Lattanzi said that principle has become more and more important now as more and more people want to “see where their food is coming from.”

“We’re more farm to table, using what you get from us on our farm and use those ingredients in everything we make that we put on the table,” he said.

Lattanzi was one of the driving forces in establishing an Agricultural Commission in Lunenburg and helping to write a right-to-farm bylaw for the town, and although he said he still plans on being active in the farming community, this was a chance to help grow his business.

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