EATON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — A large tent fills the front yard where plants once grew along Butternut Road in Eaton Township.
The Lorain County family farm, Butternut Farm, hits the auction block Thursday, with more than 50 acres up for sale along with equipment on the property.
For 80 years, Butternut Farm has been a family spot for pumpkins, hayrides and fresh produce.
“Everybody would bring their kids out here and put them in a wagon and they would pick up their own pumpkins,” neighbor Dave Sicz reminisced.
A family member of the former owner of Butternut Farm told News 5 the land is up for auction as a result of inheritance issues between different members of the family’s trust.
“Honestly, it’s my whole life and it’s all I've ever known,” Rich Sasack said. “We’ve been in business since 1942. We grow unique vegetables, hard-to-find stuff such as kohlrabi, eggplant, and probably 10 different types of peppers."
Sasack told News 5 that he does plan to attend the auction to see if he can recover some of the land or some of the items on the property.
“I’ve been through the fire once, so I'll do it again,” he said. “In order to be a farmer you have to do it for love.”
Agriculture leaders told News 5 that while what’s happening to this farm is one specific set of circumstances, it points out a bigger change underway in the industry.
Ty Higgins with the Ohio Farm Bureau told News 5 their agency is working to help farms continue to thrive from generation to generation and when new and beginning farmers are trying to take over.
“With values the way they are, it might be enticing to put that land on the market and get top value while the market is hot right now,” he said. “We have a lot more people to feed now than we did 50 years ago and farms have to adapt to that climate and supply that food needed for everybody in our community and the state and around the world.”
While the perception might look that there are fewer farms than before, data from the USDA shows the number of farms in Ohio has not seen any substantial decrease, however, it has seen the size of farms shrink slightly, with data showing the average farm size declined 3% to 179 acres from 2007-2017.