Throughout the MOV, family and farms are two aspects that often merge into one. Rob Butcher of the Butcher Family Farm and Greenhouse in Washington, WV knows firsthand the importance of operating a local family farm. A third-generation farmer, he has carried on the tradition that his grandparents started when they moved to the farm’s current location in the 1930s. Though the items that have been grown and sold throughout the decades may have changed, one thing is for certain – Rob is passionate about what he does. This passion is displayed not only in quality products and a family-friendly environment but on the happy faces of customers visiting the farm.
To feed his yen of agricultural knowledge, Rob enrolled at OSU in 1983 and studied pig production. After graduating, he raised pigs and some cattle for a while. He then moved to Virginia and later North Carolina where he worked in the corporate hog business. Rob returned to the family farm in the early 1990s and focused more of his attention on produce.
As fate would have it, in the fall of 1991 the farm had some extra pumpkins that didn’t get sold to a wholesaler. In hopes of selling the pumpkins, they were displayed in the family’s yard. Much to Rob’s surprise, the pumpkins sold out immediately. This one event changed the course of the farm. From here, pumpkins became more of a focus. Schools began to notice the pumpkins Butcher’s had to offer, and the Head Start just down the road asked to do a pumpkin tour. This developed into the farm offering many school tours throughout the 1990s.
By the early 2000s, the family was dealt with another twist of fate: their mum supplier went out of business. Rather than not have mums to sell, Rob said they decided to grow their own. The first year showed a sale of 1,000 mums. Fast forward to the current day, and the farm sells about 15,000 each season. The real game-changer, though, was Rob’s discovery of the candy corn mum. He found this mum while flipping through a magazine one day. He saw it, liked how it looked and decided to grow it. He had no idea the craze these mums would produce. Without a doubt, the candy corn mums are the customer favorite.
With a need to expand, the first greenhouse was built in 2008. Since then, Rob said the farm has kept growing. In addition to mums, flowers and ferns are sold in the spring. Flowers can be found in hanging baskets, four-and-a-half and six-inch pots, and combination planters. But the big draws, Rob said, are the custom planters. “Custom planters are taking off. Customers drop off their pot(s) they may have had from year to year, and Butcher’s fills and plants it for them.”
Butcher’s isn’t all about just growing and selling a product, though – they embody more than that. Rob beams with joy knowing that many families come to the farm year after year, generation after generation. Rob said he loves hearing quotes from customers like, “We used to buy watermelons from your grandpa under that willow tree!” He loves the memories families make when they visit the farm. One thing that’s important to him is family photo moments. “We try to make lots of photo opportunities where families will come out. We try to make it a family-friendly environment.” The infamous mum wall, gourd/pumpkin wall, and the “How Tall This Fall?” measurement backdrop are just a few examples of the photo props Butcher’s has each fall for picture-taking.
When envisioning the future, Rob said the farm will “keep doing what we’re doing; keep trying to make it a place where families want to come.” And with events like Family Fun Day held every second Saturday in October, there seems to be no shortage of families enjoying their time at the Butcher Family Farm year after year.