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A visit to Stoer Farm Market is a little like coming home. Here, friends and strangers alike are greeted by the smiling faces of people who are genuinely happy you stopped by to shop and visit. Located just off of St. Rt. 104 in Pickaway County, it’s an easy drive for quality products and for a truly special experience.
What makes this place most memorable is husband and wife team Jim and Donna Stoer who operate the farm and market. The pair were childhood friends and high school sweethearts. They have been married 56 years but still seem like a couple of youngsters when discussing life together.
Jim said they both were farm kids and that Donna actually grew up on this farm where her father ran a dairy and raised other animals. After Jim’s lengthy career in corporate America and more than forty years living in Grove City, they came back to Donna’s home place in 2014. “This all started when Donna started selling sweet corn under a tree in the front yard. She moved into the garage when she outgrew the tree,” Jim explained with a chuckle.
“It’s so nice having our friends stop by and meeting new people,” she elaborated. “I really do enjoy it!”
The Market has grown significantly since that first table of sweet corn in the Stoer’s front yard. Now the market offers a range of in-season produce throughout the growing season. The June day VCNB visited, they offered tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, eggs and some late season strawberries. Soon, their ever popular sweet corn will fly out the door along with a host of other delicious summer favorites. Other times of the year, they sell asparagus, rhubarb, blackberries, raspberries, pumpkins, gourds and an array of other produce.
Their most sought after product is their line of honey, straight from hives on the farm. “Bees are having some trying times now and we wanted to help them out,” Jim said as he explained that their daughter Candy had encouraged them to try working with bees. “Many crops depend on bees for pollination. If they go away, our agriculture will be in a lot of trouble,” he said.
They have a complete line of honey products that includes various size bottles of their wildflower and clover honey, natural honey candy, honey straws, and an all natural creamed honey spread that Donna makes homemade.
Jim and Donna take their job very seriously, practicing natural beekeeping that they hope to pass on to others. “Every beekeeper has different wisdom and different ways of doing things. You have to put all these ideas together and figure out what really works” Donna explained. “We want to help potential beekeepers get started. There’s knowledge that can be passed down.”
In addition to providing education and honey, they also are available to safely relocate honeybee swarms. A swarm is when a group of honeybees attaches itself to a structure or tree while it looks for a more permanent home. Jim said they often receive calls for assistance and Donna shared a picture of a swarm on their own property. Experts say this swarm on a tiny peach tree was one of the largest this area has seen.
As part of their natural beekeeping, Jim and Donna began growing flowers. “We started growing lots of flowers to help bees get their food. That means we also have flowers to sell,” Donna said.
They use a mixture of six kinds of fertilizer to enrich the soil and to grow a large selection of healthy, beautiful flowers for cutting including Peonies, Larkspur, Snapdragons, Hydrangeas, Zinnias, Celosia, Dahlias and Lisianthus. We have two plots of wildflowers that are strictly for the bees,” Jim said.
“Of all the work on the farm, there is nothing more gratifying that filling a bucket with flowers and bringing them into the market,” Donna said.
They sell other things at the market including gourmet mustard and jams, lip balm and homemade soaps. They also take weekly orders for Der Dutchman bakery items such as donuts, pies and apple fritters. Their daughter Candy makes custom wood painted quilt blocks for outdoor display and Jim and Donna can put customers in touch with Candy for a consultation.
Donna said she will soon offer salsa, cheese and kettle corn for summer visitors and the pair are already thinking about their plans for another fall event. Last year, the farm hosted weekly events in October that featured fun activities for the family including hay rides, music, dancing and a plethora of fall décor including pumpkins, gourds and straw.
They invite visitors to enjoy the farm. “I just love our customers. They’re our lifeline,” Donna said with pure joy. “So many come here and say they love the farm and we say it’s here for them to enjoy.”
Jim emphasized that his wife is the heart and soul of the market. “Donna IS the market. We would have nothing if it weren’t for her,” he said.
Stoer Farm Market is located at 5823 Durrett Rd, Orient, Ohio. They are located just off Rt. 104, approximately 20 minutes north of Circleville. Market hours vary some with the seasons. During the summer, hours are Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. They accept cash, Discover, MasterCard, Visa and American Express. Have questions? Call 614-419-2952 and be sure to follow them on Facebook! Flip through the slideshow to see more pictures!