story Dawn Nolan | Photography Shannon Calf
With nearly 30 attractions, Gritt’s Fun Farm lives up to its name.
“Family has a lot to do, but I also tell people that no matter how old you are, there’s something for everyone – whether you’re craving doughnuts or other fall treats, get on a hay wagon for a few minutes, Or just explore the corn maze with friends,” said Alexandra Pfost, Marketing and Agritourism Manager at Gritt’s Farm.
Held annually at Gritt’s Farm in Buffalo, West Virginia (about 50 miles west of Huntington), the idea for what became the Fun Farm was planted more than 15 years ago when third-generation owner and operator Bob Gritt added A pick-your-own pumpkin patch to attract tourists and sell more fall moms. Other activities have been added over the years, such as corn boxes, corn mazes, slide hills, wagon rides, tractor trains, apple cannons, ziplines and jump pillows, as well as food options.
“We are actively involved in an agritourism organisation called NAFDMA [North America Farm Direct Marketing Association] We get great insights from other farms and agritourism businesses – we attend conferences, travel and travel each other to different regions, countries and internationally to get ideas,” Pforst said. “We are very excited about what’s coming Very excited for the Joy Farm season. We will see and explore more than we have in the past. “
New to Happy Farm this season is a goat visiting experience called “Gritt’s Goatel.”
“Goats are important here,” Pforst said. “People love to feed them, so we think they deserve more home upgrades.”
Open Thursday to Sunday from mid-September to October, Gritt’s Fun Farm welcomes thousands of visitors during its six-week operation.
“It’s a fall tradition for a lot of people,” Pforst said. “We look forward to everyone here and welcoming new and returning faces.”
For more information on Gritt’s Fun Farm hours and prices, visit grittsfarm.com/fun-farm.
While it’s become Gritt’s Farm’s busiest time of year, Fun Farm is just part of what makes this historic family business a popular destination and an important part of the community.
“We are a three-season plant, produce and agritourism farm with plans to expand to a four-season, year-round farm,” Pfost said. “We planted Christmas trees for the first time last year. Those take five to seven years to grow; however , in the meantime, we do plan to have Christmas entertainment until families can come and pick their own tree.”
This is an exciting next step for Gritt’s, which has evolved and adapted to the changing needs of its customers and community throughout its history.
“The Gritts are an innovative family,” Pfost said.
Founded in 1927 by Italian immigrants Veto and Nally Gritt, Gritt’s Farm started out raising chickens – at one point 15,000 – and delivering them to your door. Later, Gerrit turned to grain and tobacco. In the 1980s, second-generation farmer Lee Gritt and his son Bob started building the greenhouse, which is still in use today.
“Have [Lee] Knowing he wanted to continue to innovate and take the business in the direction that would be most profitable for future generations; he laid many of the foundations that exist today,” Pforst said. “They planted what many believe to be the first West Virginia Hydroponics [meaning grown without soil in a water-based nutrient solution] tomato. “
Now, 95 years after its establishment, the farm covers more than 300 acres. It is open to the public for produce and plant/flower shopping and events from spring to fall.
“We have plants here in spring, plants and produce – mostly produce — In the summer, we also start our agritourism activities in the spring.So, we’re hosting an annual spring planting workshop and monthly farm-to-table dinners [with Chef Jesse Lyons of Coco’s Kitchen + Cafe in Charleston] From spring to summer, and then fall, we transition to the busiest time of the year, Happy Farm/Our Fall. “
Gritt’s also has a stand at the Capitol Market in Charleston during the spring and summer and a produce stand in St. Petersburg. Albans is open in summer. There is a crop production farm in Leon, West Virginia.
However, as it expands, its focus on family (Bob’s son Brad Gerrit is now general manager and is raising a fifth generation on the farm) and offering fresh locally grown produce remains.
“This is a small, family-owned West Virginia business, and we are very grateful to everyone who has supported it so far,” Pforst said. “Everything we do is about giving back to the community, building on what the Brad and Gritt families have built and continuing the family legacy.”
Gerrit Farm is located at 864 Gerrit Road in Buffalo, West Virginia. Visit www.grittsfarm.com or call 304-937-2565 for more information. Social Media: @grittsfarm on Facebook and Instagram
Gerrit’s Sunflower Patch
While weather-dependent, Gritt’s sunflower fields are another big draw for the farm in midsummer and early fall, sometimes coinciding with Fun Farm’s second bloom.
“It came in waves. 2018 was our first year, and it’s an experience we’ve been looking forward to welcoming guests back to the farm because we know it’s an important, joyful experience for them,” Pforst said. “It was a great photo opportunity and it brought a lot of joy. We let people pick their own bouquets and we had photographers book a lot of meetings there.”