After more than four decades operating family farm businesses in Connecticut and New Hampshire, it was with an eager eye toward the future of the agricultural industry that the Huntington family launched lēf Farms in Loudon, a large-scale indoor robotic farming facility fueled by state-of-the-art technology, about five years ago.
It was that same forward-facing perspective that prompted the family to create the Huntington Family Scholarship Fund at the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) at UNH — in the hopes of preparing graduates to fortify operations precisely like the one they recently built.
“We want to be able to support students who are interested in going into an agricultural career,” says Henry Huntington, president and CEO of lēf Farms. “The need for graduates coming out of universities and into agriculture is huge, so if we can support that and help sustain that, that’s our goal — to give students the opportunity to view this as a career.”
That’s precisely what the scholarship is doing. Anna Haber ’19, a genetics major, will begin her doctorate in plant breeding, genetics and biotechnology at Michigan State next year, and hopes to later work for an agricultural biotechnology company before returning to academia as a professor — to educate more future agricultural influencers.
The Huntington Family Scholarship was critical to Haber’s professional pursuits, relieving some of the pressure of student loans and other financial responsibilities.
“The Huntington Family Scholarship is one of the largest scholarships COLSA offers, and it blows me away that this influential family was willing to invest so much in my education, and really, my future,” says Haber. “Through the work I’ve done at UNH, I’ve cultivated my passion for plant science, and now I know I definitely want to pursue a research career.”
Plant science has been a career for most of the Huntington family for more than 40 years. Through Pleasant View Gardens, a wholesale greenhouse business in Loudon, the Huntingtons have been agricultural fixtures in the community they’ve called home for decades, a legacy that is only expanding with lēf Farms.
Another community they’ve called home is UNH — Jonathan Huntington graduated in 1950, followed by sons Jeffrey ’76 and Henry ’80. Jeffrey’s son, Andrew, graduated in 2002, and Henry’s son, Jon, completed his MBA in 2018.
Along with the family scholarship fund, the Huntingtons also have established the Eleanor Rippe Huntington Nursing Scholarship at UNH, in honor of Jonathan’s wife, a longtime nurse.
“We all felt a connection to the university, and with our business and what the university is doing on the plant biology and plant science side, we felt strongly that a partnership was important — important for us, but important for the industry, as well,” says Henry Huntington. “We have a great fondness for the university. Our time there was special for all of us.”