Farm History

How it all started…

Tom and Martha Mercer bought a small farm from Martha’s father in 1978.  Little did they know that within their lifetime they would see the fields and farm completely transformed. 

Tom and Martha were both teachers.  Tom retired from teaching and he and his oldest son Craig decided to begin growing vegetables.  They set up a small wagon alongside the road in front of their farm and sold their produce each summer.  After college, Craig worked full time away from the farm.  Despite having this full time job, Craig’s heart was truly at the farm.  He and his wife Joanne helped Tom and Martha plant, grow, and harvest the crops that they continued to sell from the wagon.

In 1982, the Mercer family grew with the birth of Craig and Joanne’s oldest son, Ryan, and again in 1985, with the birth of their second son, Ross.  The farm continued to be a family affair as the boys were eager to come to the farm to help and spend time with their dad and mom and grandma and grandpa.

In 1992, the first market was built at the farm, ending over a decade of roadside sales from their trusty wagon.  That wagon is still a part of the farm, however, as it is still used for hauling irrigation equipment.  The first greenhouse, only 1,440 square feet, was constructed shortly after in 1993, expanding both the square footage of the buildings and the variety of plants and produce available at the farm.

Over the years, greenhouses have moved, new greenhouses and buildings have been built, and an addition has been added to the original market.  The farm looks a lot different than when Tom and Martha first stood together looking over their fields of corn and hay.  Despite the changes, the value of family, God, and hard work are still at the forefront of the daily operations of the farm.

Craig and his wife Joanne now run the farm, while Tom and Martha enjoy semi-retirement, still spending much of their time during the summer lending a helping hand when needed.  Craig’s oldest son Ryan worked on the farm throughout high school and college, but chose a different route.  Ryan works full time as an engineer and a father of four with his wife, but he always makes time to find his way back to the farm.  Ross decided that farming was his true passion.  After graduating with a business degree, Ross came back to the farm full time in 2008 and works side-by-side with his dad every day, fine-tuning his knowledge of the farm and learning the ins and outs of running the business.  Ross’s wife, a high school English teacher, also helps at the farm when she can.  The farm currently employs approximately 12 seasonal workers from May to October.  The employees are like family and are the heart of the business.  Most people who come to the farm each summer are happy to see familiar faces, especially those of the employees that have been with us from the start. In the picture below, Joy (left) has been with the farm since 1987.  She is a very valuable employee because she manages and runs the day to day operation in the market.  She also makes fresh pies, which are sold at the market.  Jenell, (right) the greenhouse manager, has been with the farm since 2004. She is an Ohio Certified Garden Center Technician by the ONLA and our certified Proven Winner employee.  She is currently working at obtaining her AAS in Horticulture Technology.  She not only loves helping customers with their plant questions, but she also gives workshops in the summer.Jenell manages our picking crew in the field and also has a vast knowledge of perennials.

As of the beginning of the 2012 season, there is 42,000 square feet of greenhouses.  They also farm approximately 155 acres of land on which they raise a variety of crops.  In addition to their sales in the market, Catalpa Grove Farm offers another unique option for the purchase of fruits and veggies.  Almost all of their produce is available for U-pick.  Beginning with strawberries in the early summer and concluding with such crops as tomatoes and peppers in the fall, many customers who come to the farm are pleasantly surprised to discover that they can pick their own produce and can therefore buy a much larger quantity for a less expensive price. 

The farm continues to change and to grow thanks to our loyal customers and the amazing new customers we have the opportunity to meet and serve each year.

 

The orignal stand, which was only two small wagons. This is its last year in 1991.The new market built in 1992.Original owners Tom and Martha Mercer