Jody Brown Boyd

Spring was a long time coming for Jody Brown Boyd at Brown’s Family Farm Market, which straddles the border between Hamilton and Butler counties in Ross, Ohio.

Boyd was looking for every nook and cranny she could find to store flats and hanging baskets that were destined for the market once the temperature finally got out of the freezing range overnight. Plants were huddled together in nine greenhouses, the retail building and trailers to keep from succumbing to the nighttime cold that didn’t seem to lift for good until well into May.

Brown's Family Farm Market
Brown’s Family Farm Market

“We were stashing things everywhere,” she said, surveying her inventory 10 days before Mother’s Day. Most of those flats and hanging baskets would be gone by mid-May. Mother’s Day is the biggest day of the year in the nursery business in southern Ohio.

After that holiday, the majority of the market’s focus switches to produce. Boyd is a fourth-generation farmer and a Farm Bureau member in Butler County. Her family has been farming and selling produce in one way or another for over a century.

“My great-grandparents, my grandparents and even my father set up at the Historic Hamilton Courthouse Farmers Market for over 100 years,” she said. “We got this retail location in 1990, when I was just a kid, and I’ve pretty much grown up here.”

The most hectic time of year at Brown’s is in the fall when fun harvest activities bring 4,000-5,000 people a day to the farm to participate in agritourism activities like hayrides, pumpkin patch picking and corn mazes. It was during that time of year that the value of Farm Bureau membership stood out the most to Boyd.

Finding labor

“We’ve created a very high maintenance business here,” Boyd said of Brown’s Family Farm Market. “When you are dealing with fresh produce, fresh plants and fresh products that need constant care, labor is always an issue.”

She is seeing that the number of applicants for open positions has dropped, and fewer and fewer people are interested in working in these jobs. Brown’s Family Farm Market employs about 30 people full time and part time, plus seasonal workers.

Browns Farm Market Butler County“We really appreciate what Farm Bureau has done to get people interested in this line of work and workforce development and getting people interested in this industry. It takes a lot to run this type of business,” she said. “Getting the youth involved through granting scholarships is so important to get and keep them interested in these fields of work.”

Jody’s daughter, Jenna, a 2023 graduate of Ross High School, was a Butler County Farm Bureau scholarship recipient this year. Jody’s husband, Steve, helps around on the farm in his spare time. The Boyds also have two younger boys who both enjoy helping out on the farm.

The skyrocketing interest in home gardening since the pandemic has kept Boyd and her family on their toes. She expected that growth to decline by this point, but she hasn’t seen it. Maintaining a knowledgeable and robust workforce is key to sustainability and any potential growth in the future.

“People are interested in growing their own food and knowing where their food comes from,” she said, noting that educating the public is something she has enjoyed doing over the last few years. “I’ve done classes on growing herbs, decorating with novelty pumpkins, vegetable gardening in containers, making evergreen door swags and making a succulent planter.”

Agritourism protection helps welcome the public

Boyd likes to share Brown’s Family Farm Market with the public, but also wants to protect the operation.

agritourism protection“We really want people to enjoy the farm experience,” she said. “There is still so much value in it. But, at the same time, when you have that many people coming to your farm, you’re very vulnerable and exposed to the public. We’re really happy that Farm Bureau pushed for the agritourism protection that has been put in place. It helps take the burden off with all the liability because it’s hard to have that many people in your space. We’re still a production farm.”

Those protections went into effect in 2016 after Ohio Farm Bureau pushed for agritourism coverage for members and all farmers who welcome the public onto their farm. The legislation, among other things, established immunity in a civil action for agritourism providers. There are requirements the operation must fulfill to qualify for the liability protection, including prominently posting an agritourism sign.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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