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Farming philosophy: Adjust

April 16, 2012
The Marietta Times

The Witten Farm Market and Greenhouse, based in Lowell, is operated by siblings Tom Witten, Scott Witten and Julie Witten.

Although the Wittens are best known for their sweet corn, the family farms 290 acres of many different varieties of fruits and vegetables, including cucumbers, cantaloupes, strawberries and tomatoes.

Their father Jerry also manages the beef cattle end of the business, raising black angus steers for locally sold freezer beef.

Tom Witten took some time away from farming to answer a few questions about the farm.

Q: What is the history of your family's farm?

A: The Witten family has really been farming along the river for over 200 years. As far as our personal business that exists now along (Ohio) 60, that was started in 1958 by my grandpa Ralph Witten. He was a dairy and vegetable farmer in Fly, Ohio and they sold the farm there in (19)57 and moved here north of Coal Run in 1958, so it started as a dairy farm. That was prior to interstate travel so the reason it was chosen was for the traffic for the roadside retail on the vegetables.

Q: Besides the farm itself, Witten's has several satellite stands in the area. How many are there and how did those get started?

A: My grandpa always had a sizable vegetable farm and a market by the road. In 1992 my oldest sister Amy started a market in Reno on (Ohio) 7. That was our first satellite store. She moved away and then Julie graduated from Ohio State (University) in 1994 and started a few more satellite stands and our flower production was started in 1994. This year we'll have 22 markets.

Q: On what philosophy is the farm operated? What has kept it up and running all these years?

A: We don't want people to buy from us because it's local - we want people to buy from us because it's better. That's where I see the sustainability of the buy local movement. We can all buy local but if it's an inferior product, it doesn't matter if it's from your community - it's an inferior product.

Ashley Rittenhouse conducted this interview.



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