Down on the farm – The Tribune


story Dawn Nolan | photography Shannon Shanko

With nearly 30 attractions, Gritt’s Fun Farm lives up to its name.

“There’s so much for families to do, but I also tell people that, no matter what age you are, there’s something for everyone — whether you want to have a donut or another fall treat, go on the hayride for a few minutes or just explore the corn maze with friends,” said Alexandra Pfost, Marketing & Agritourism manager for Gritt’s Farm.

Held every year at Gritt’s Farm in Buffalo, West Virginia (about 50 miles west of Huntington), the idea for what would later become the Fun Farm was planted — quite literally — more than 15 years ago when third generation owner and operator, Bob Gritt , added a pick-your-own pumpkin patch to the farm as a way to draw visitors and sell more fall mums. Other activities, such as a corn bin, corn mazes, slide mountain, wagon rides, tractor train, apple cannons, zip lines and jump pillows, as well as food options, have been added over the years.

“We are heavily involved in an agritourism group called NAFDMA [North America Farm Direct Marketing Association] where we receive great insight — we go to conferences, do tours and travel with each other to different parts and the country and internationally to get ideas — from other farms and agritourism businesses,” Pfost said. “We’re really excited for the upcoming Fun Farm season. There’s going to be even more to see and explore than we’ve ever had in the past.”

A new addition to the Fun Farm this season is a goat visitation experience called “Gritt’s Goatel.”

“The goats are a big deal here,” Pfost said. “People love to feed them, so we thought they deserved a bit more of a home upgrade.”

Open Thursdays-Sundays from mid-September through October, Gritt’s Fun Farm welcomes thousands of visitors during its six-week run.

“It’s a fall tradition for a lot of people,” Pfost said. “We look forward to having everyone here and welcoming new and returning faces.”

More information on hours and pricing for Gritt’s Fun Farm can be found online at grittsfarm.com/fun-farm.

Although it has become Gritt’s Farm’s busiest time of year, the Fun Farm is just one piece that makes the long-standing family business a popular destination and important part of its 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 get into the Christmas entertainment events until families can come and pick their own Christmas tree.”

It’s an exciting next step for Gritt’s, which, throughout its history, has evolved and adapted to the changing needs of its customers and community.

“The Gritts are a family of innovators,” Pfost said.

Established in 1927 by Italian immigrants Veto and Nally Gritt, Gritt’s Farm started with chickens — reaching 15,000 at one point in time — and delivering eggs door-to-door. Later, Gritt’s turned to grain and then tobacco. In the ’80s, second generation farmer Lee Gritt and his son, Bob, began constructing greenhouses, which are still in use.

“Hey [Lee] knew he wanted to continue to innovate and move the business in a direction that would be the most profitable and fruitful for generations to come; he laid a lot of the groundwork that exists here today,” Pfost said. “They grew what many believe were the first West Virginia hydroponic [meaning grown without soil in a water-based nutrient solution] tomatoes.”

Now, 95 years after the farm was established, it spans 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 the springtime, plants and produce — mostly produce — in the summertime, and we also kick off our agritourism events in the spring. So, we’ll do our annual spring planter workshops and monthly farm to table dinners [with Chef Jesse Lyons of Coco’s Kitchen + Cafe in Charleston] from spring through summer, and then in the fall we transition into the busiest time of year for us, the Fun Farm/our fall season.”

Gritt’s also has a stand at Charleston’s Capitol Market during the spring/summer season and a produce stand in St. Albans open during the summer. There is a crop production farm located in Leon, West Virginia.

As it has expanded, though, its focus on family (Bob’s son, Brad Gritt is now the general manager and is raising the fifth-generation on the farm) and providing fresh, locally grown products has remained.

“This is a West Virginia family-owned small business, and we are really grateful to everybody that has supported it so far,” Pfost said. “Everything that we do is to give back to the community and build upon what Brad and the Gritt family have already built and continue the family legacy.”

Gritt’s Farm is located at 864 Gritt Road in Buffalo, West Virginia. Visit www.grittsfarm.com or call 304-937-2565 for more information. Social media: @grittsfarm on Facebook and Instagram

Gritt’s Sunflower Patch

Though weather-dependent, Gritt’s sunflower patch is another big draw for the farm in mid-summer and early fall, sometimes coinciding with the start of Fun Farm in its second bloom.

“It pops up in waves. 2018 was our first year for that, and it’s an experience we always look forward to welcoming guests back to the farm for because we know that it’s a big, happy experience for them,” Pfost said. “It’s a fantastic photo opportunity, and it brings a lot of joy. We let people pick their own bouquets, and we let photographers book a lot of sessions out there.”

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