Amber Gadway looks over the poinsettias at a greenhouse at Whiting Farm in Auburn in November 2021. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal file photo

AUBURN — Whiting Farm has closed, six years after it was revived to the delight of the local gardening community.

The reason? Officials from John F. Murphy Homes, which has been running the farm, say the recent workforce crisis brought about by the pandemic has left them with too few workers.

Ceasing operations at Whiting Farm, the company wrote in a news release, helps to realign resources to further the agency’s primary mission of providing supports and services to children and adults with autism, intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

The farm, at 824 Summer St., was closed Feb. 4.

John F. Murphy Homes, a service organization based in Auburn, 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 customers, decided he could no longer operate the farm. His brother and partner, Buster, died the previous December, and no family members stepped forward to take his place.

When John F. Murphy Homes bought the business, the plan was to run it in parallel with their 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 news release Thursday, an organization spokesman said the workforce crisis was coupled with persistent funding concerns within the disability sector, prompting the decision to close.

Although the farm will be 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 broader community,” CEO Todd Goodwin wrote. “We have appreciated the goodwill and support from the Whiting family and all the friends, neighbors, volunteers and staff who have worked tirelessly to uphold this local institution.”

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