Ralph and Frances Witten bought this farm land in 1958. Ralph chose this farm because the soil type is ideal for good vegetables, plus the location on the state highway would be excellent for a farm market in the front yard. He had a history of raising vegetables, and started growing sweet corn, tomatoes, potatoes and
many other vegetables for a wide selection of fresh produce. He also managed a dairy herd of 40 Holstein cows, and with Frances, this was an ideal home to raise their seven children.
Jerry, their oldest son, returned to the farm after receiving his agriculture degree from Ohio State University. He expanded the farm into more wholesale in 1970, increasing the acreage of sweet corn, cantaloupes, and field corn.
Ralph was still milking around 60 cows, but Jerry became interested in starting a beef cattle operation. That went well, and the dairy was sold in 1980. Within a few years, the wholesale market became less reliable—there was no guarantee on price, or even demand, which could leave the farmer with excess harvest, or a loss on his time and investment.The farm started a satellite market in Marietta in1984, allowing another avenue for sales directly to the public. In the next 5 years we opened two additional locations.
Jerry and his wife Bonnie have 5 children. Bonnie, a Registered Nurse, was for many of the next years a stay at home mom, book-keeper and general "whatever other people did not want to do" helper. She returned to nursing part time in 1990, and is still the book-keeper for the Witten Farm and attends farmers' markets.
Three of the five children work on the farm today. Julie, Jerry’s daughter, returned to the family business in1995 after graduating from Ohio State University. Julie started the greenhouse flower business with a small greenhouse to develop retail specialty containers and hanging baskets. Today we are growing 40,000 sqare feet of bedding plants.
Tom, Jerry’s son, graduated from the Ohio State University in 2002, and returned to the family business, and now manages the vegetable production. And Scott, the youngest of the five, graduated from Ohio State Univesity in 2008, and manages packing, trucking and the wholesale operation.
4th Generation Witten Farmers
Currently, the family is farming 290 acres of fruits and vegetables: 250 acres of hand picked sweet corn, 20 acres cantaloupes, 5 acres tomatoes, 5 acres of miscellaneous cucumbers,squash etc., and 10 acres of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. We also have 800 acres of field corn and soybeans, and finish 120 Black Angus steers for locally sold freezer beef, which Jerry manages.