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Garver Family Farm Market expands with new building
By Celeste Baumgartner
0hio Correspondent

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio – The new Garver Family Farm Market held its grand opening in early May, but a “soft” opening on April 8 kind of blew everything out of the water.
The market is on a busy highway, so passersby have been wondering about the new building as it was under construction. The Garvers knew that the opening would be busy, so they decided on a soft opening. While the building is primarily a farmers market, they added a deli, a bakery, and a winery, all new to them. They wanted to be sure there were no kinks.
Only a few customers trickled in during the first hours of April 8. The family got nervous as they were stocked with product. Alayna Garver-Taylor posted on Facebook: “Surprise, we are open.”
“Not even 10 minutes later, it was like a switch, and ever since, every single day, it has been incredibly busy,” Garver-Taylor said. “To our surprise, the deli has taken off like a rocket. Our lunch rush is absolutely insane. We did not intend to be a restaurant; we had never been in food service before. We have always grown food but we have never prepared it or served it. But that has become the highlight of who we are now.”
While there is a new building, the market has been there since 1991 when Mike and Suzy Garver were young newlyweds looking for a way to afford dinner out. They’d set out some corn and tomatoes, and if they sold enough, they could have a date night.
“A few years later, they decided to add squash, melons, and some pumpkins,” said Garver-Taylor, Suzy and Mike’s daughter. “Around 1996 when they added the pumpkins, that was what really set off the market. We drew in a whole new crowd.”
Mike’s parents, Sue and the late Bob Garver, were still involved then. People loved the fall activities, being outside. They had a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. The crowds got bigger.
“Fast-forward to probably 2010, when we started flowers,” she said. “We built a 5,000-square-foot greenhouse. We had annuals, hanging baskets, patio pots, vegetable plants herbs, plants, every few years we add a little bit.”
It was in about 2018 that Mike and Suzy, Garver-Taylor and her husband, Daylon Taylor, were deciding to do the next big thing. The farm and farm market are on a busy highway and the suburbs were encroaching on the farm.
“We had the produce, the flowers, the pumpkins; what was next?” she said. “A lot of wealthier people in the area were looking for the next big thing. So, we took about 30 years’ worth of comments, feedback, what people want and we put all those comments and feedback into this building.”
Pre-COVID, they were going to build a building about three times bigger than the current 12,000 square feet and include a produce market, bakery, deli, arts and crafts, and a wedding-event venue. Before COVID, it seemed like a great idea and plans were underway. Then COVID hit and building costs skyrocketed.
“We decided we have come this far for 30 plus years without a wedding venue we can go another 30 without it; but our farm market did need more space because of the amount of business we were getting,” Garver-Taylor explained. “Our original building was only about 500 square feet. This building is 12,000 square feet and we have already found that we need more space.”
They finalized the plans and broke ground in April 2023. Four men from Timberlyne Construction started in May, built the frame of the building, and were out by July.
“Then we got started on the inside and it was a work of blood sweat and tears,” Garver-Taylor said. “We really poured everything into this. We hope for the best.”
That’s probably what Garver-Taylor’s great-great-grandfather Harry Garver also hoped for in 1926 when he purchased the farm. The former farm stand was housed in the only original building still standing. Garver-Taylor has worked on the farm her whole life. But at one time she wanted nothing more than to put it behind her.
“Growing up on a farm I had the mindset of someday getting away from here,” she said. “I want nothing to do with it. As a kid, I always thought that it was a hold-back in my life. I couldn’t be like other kids because I had farm chores. I couldn’t have friends over to spend the night because I had to wake up early and work on the farm.
“I graduated high school, went to college for nursing for two years,” Garver-Taylor explained. “One day I just woke up and decided I didn’t want to do it anymore; I wanted to be back on the farm. I don’t know what triggered it, it was just something in me. I transferred to Wilmington College and I got my degree in agriculture communications. I have been heavily involved in the farm since 2018.”
The family still farms about 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, rye, hay, and 40 acres of fruits and vegetables. They have added grape vines for the winery. A lot of that land is cash-rent and is not guaranteed.
“We used to farm over 3,000 acres but every year we lose a little bit,” Garver-Taylor said. “If the landlord gets a nice offer from a developer they might sell it right then. Last year a corn and a soybean field were sold before the crops could be cropped. We cannot be guaranteed to pass down farmland to generations.”
So, the Garvers built the market for the future. They will have some tillable acres and the market to pass on to the next generation.
“Hopefully this is going to sustain us for the next 100 years,” Garver-Taylor said.
For information visit www.garverfarmmarket.com.
5/14/2024