The Witten Farm Market History
At the Witten Farm Market, our roots run deep. We have been building on a tradition of farm, family, and healthy living since 1958. What started as a small farm stand in the front yard of the Witten home is now 23 seasonal produce markets, 8 flower markets, and one year-round market, located throughout Ohio and West Virginia.
1958 – Settling the Farm
Ralph & Frances Witten move from Fly, OH to the farm in Lowell where they raise their seven kids, operate a dairy and sell vegetables at a farm stand in the front yard.
1969 – Welcoming the 2nd Generation
Jerry Witten, Ralph & Frances’ oldest son, returns home from The Ohio State University and marries Bonnie Sutherland Witten. They go on to have 5 children while Jerry expands the vegetable production on the farm and Bonnie works as a nurse.
1980’s – Changing Directions
The milk cows are sold and Ralph retires from dairy farming. Jerry focuses on wholesaling sweet corn and other vegetables to mom and pop grocery stores across Southeastern Ohio.
1986/87 – Getting the kids involved
To instill work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit in their kids, Jerry and Bonnie open their first satellite produce market in Marietta, OH to be managed by their oldest daughter. Seeing its success, they add two more satellite locations in the early 90’s.
1994 – Picking Sweet Corn at Midnight
The demand for fresh-picked sweet corn is rising. Picking by spotlight in the middle of the night sets Witten’s corn above the rest. .
1996 – Growing Flowers
Julie Witten, Jerry & Bonnie’s second daughter, returns home from The Ohio State University and starts a greenhouse. Inspired by her Grandma Frances, she opens the first flower market at the Marietta location selling hanging baskets and bedding plants.
1998 – The Beginning of Wagons
With customer convenience and accessibility in mind, the farm adds a satellite location with a new look. The first roadside produce wagon, made from an old watermelon wagon, opens in Barlow, OH.
2003 – The Red and White Stripes
The produce wagon with the red and white striped awning makes its first appearance in Southside Parkersburg, WV. along with three others in southeastern Ohio as the farm’s focus continues to move towards retail sales.
2007/2008 – Growing the Family Business
Bonnie and Jerry retire from vegetable farming . The third generation of farmers, Julie, Tom and Scott, grow the farm to include 15 satellite farm markets ranging as far south as Ripley, W.V. to as far north as Lancaster, OH.
2010 – Welcome to the Farm
Some farm markets are now located 100+ miles away from the home farm. The first annual Employee Farm Tour is held to meet the family and educate the market teams about the farm and its growing practices.
2011 – Adding an Agricultural Landmark
Julie, Tom and Scott purchase the famous Smith Farm Market, a produce market and bakery that has been a staple in Columbus since the 1970’s. They also open a produce wagon in the neighboring community of Gahanna.
2014 – Out with the Old, In with the New
To accommodate the expanding farm, 14 small barns and buildings, including the old milkhouse and packing shed, are torn down to make room for a new building that houses the office, machinery shop and warehouse in one centralized location.
2015 – High Tunnel Heirlooms
Eight different varieties of heirloom tomatoes are successfully grown for the first time using a 2.5 acre high tunnel, which helps protect against cold spring nights and rain damage.
2017 – Getting into the Berry Business
___ acres of berry fields are planted including blackberries, blueberries, black raspberries and red raspberries. Using a trellis growing system to help protect against cold, Ohio winters, these berries will reach full production in _____ years.
2018 – Let’s get Baking
Julie fulfills her lifelong dream of owning and operating a bakery. The bakery at Smith Farm Market is remodeled and re-opens its doors in April of 2018, with a classic variety of freshly baked sweets and new signature pies.