Once a lawyer, now a farmer

Larry Pletcher ’68 grows vegetables and raises livestock in Warner, N.H.
Larry Pletcher ’68 grows vegetables and raises livestock in Warner, N.H.
John Sherman

Résumé Founder and owner of the Vegetable Ranch, a 14-acre certified-organic farm in Warner, N.H. Practiced law for nearly three decades. Law degree from UCLA. Majored in politics.

From briefs to broccoli Larry Pletcher ’68 always has felt a kinship with the soil. He spent his childhood roaming the fields of a former estate in Morristown, N.J., where his family lived in the caretaker’s house. Growing vegetables and showing livestock in the local 4-H chapter were de rigueur. Later — after he earned his law degree and entered private practice — he and his wife settled into a new home in New Hampshire and tilled a family garden plot. After a long stint working in family law in New Hampshire, Pletcher left the legal profession in 2001 and turned back to the land. “I’d been dying to start farming for a long time,” he says. “My only regret is that I didn’t make the switch sooner.”

A day on the farm Pletcher’s day begins about 6 a.m. when he heads to the farm office to ensure that invoices for the day’s deliveries are in place. Lettuce, beets, carrots, turnips — whatever vegetables are in season — are boxed and readied for pick-up by customers who purchase shares or for delivery. Plots are tilled, planted, or weeded; animals are fed; and the day ends about 7 p.m. with another round of paperwork. Pletcher provides produce to customers nearly year-round. 

More labor, less stress In 2012, Pletcher started supplying scallions, cherry tomatoes, squash, radishes, and red potatoes to Concord Hospital. He has supplemented his small herd of cattle with a few Tamworth hogs to supply certified-organic pork, while his two flocks of chickens turn out a daily supply of fresh eggs. “You work longer hours and there’s more physical labor on the farm,” Pletcher says, “but there’s much less emotional stress, and there’s the satisfaction of being your own boss.”