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Community Joins Together to Help Cherry Hill Farm

November 5, 2018

FITCHBURG -- When a fire at Lunenburg’s Cherry Hill Farm burned down its barn in 1992, the community came together and helped the MacMillan family rebuild. More than 20 years later, after a grain silo collapse destroyed the same barn, friends, family and the farming community gathered at Hollis Hills Farm Saturday to raise money for Cherry Hill.

“The support here ... is why we get up in the morning,” said Marilyn MacMillan, who owns Cherry Hill Farm with her husband, Doug. “Without it, it would be so bleak.”

A fundraiser for the barn attracted hundreds of visitors from around the region and beyond.

Hollis Hills owner Jim Lattanzi expected turnout to reach up to a thousand throughout the day.

He wanted to host the fundraiser because he grew up in Lunenburg and got his start at Cherry Hill Farm.

“We’re hoping the fundraiser will give them a push forward,” Lattanzi said.

Three weeks earlier, a full grain silo collapsed on Cherry Hill’s iconic red barn that overlooks Leominster Road in Lunenburg.

Raymond MacMillan, Doug and Marilyn’s son, who operates the business, was inside the barn with his daughter, Grace, before it collapsed. They heard the silo’s metal straps begin to snap and were able to get themselves and some animals out before the collapse.

The damage halted dairy production that went on in the barn’s basement. Five farms from around the state, including Stillman’s Dairy Farm in Lunenburg and Hollis Hills, took in Cherry Hill’s dairy and beef cows.

To help raise money for the farm, attendees on Saturday purchased raffle tickets to win a variety of items, including gift baskets containing food and wine and certificates for activities. Raffle tickets were $20 for a sheet of 25 tickets, which people could place in a container to indicate their interest in items.

Within the first hour of the fundraiser, 300 tickets were sold, raising about $240.

There was also a silent auction for prizes that included pictures of Cherry Hill and a snowblower.

Despite the rain during the first half of the event, people enjoyed outdoor live music, games and food provided by Lunenburg’s Turkey Hill Lions Club.

In addition to the Lions Club, more than 20 businesses and organizations from the area supported the fundraiser.

“The farming community is such a tight-knit community,” said Ryan Stober, a member of Lunenburg’s Agricultural Commission. “Any time something tragic happens, we help each other out. We’re family.”

Inside, a timeline was on display that covered more than a century of Lunenburg dairyfarming and Cherry Hill’s history.

Images from the recent barn collapse decorated a board of frequently asked questions that addressed inquiries about how Cherry Hill is doing and what’s next for the farm.

Next to it were pictures of construction on the barn in 1992.

“We did it before -- With the help from all. Who knows what’s next to come?” read a handwritten message under the photo album.

Follow Mina Corpuz on Twitter @mlcorpuz.