West Orchards Farm Market named Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year
January 8—The West family has farmed in Perry Township since 1891, with West Orchards Farmers Market operated and managed by five different generations, currently run by Todd and Ame West for 14 years.
Additionally, it is one of three farms in Lake County with an Ohio Century Farm certificate to recognize the family’s 100 years of working the land.
“Before me, my dad and Uncle Donald ran the farm, and my uncle mostly ran the market and my dad did the field work and everyone worked together,” Todd West said. “There was no fixed job for each part of the business. Since I was 4 years old, I have been in the field and I work in the field with my family.”
Now, West Orchards Farm Market has been named the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Business of the Year and will be honored at a January 27 luncheon with the 2022 Lake County Free Clinic Beacon Award recipient.
The public can register for the event by visiting the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce website.
“It was a complete shock, we had no idea,” said Ame, a former president of the Chamber of Commerce.
“We had absolutely no idea at all,” Todd said. “She was very involved in the chamber of commerce but wasn’t on any board or anything. So when they showed up, Ame burst into tears.”
“There’s a committee in the chamber and someone is coming up with your name, a few people on the committee coming up with other names and possibly discussing two or three companies and narrowing the number down to one,” she said. declared.
Todd says his grandfather Richard P. West was the instrumental figure who made the farming business what it is today as a fruit and vegetable farm versus “all kinds of farming with animals and other things.
Todd and Ame said they are most interested in sweet corn and peaches, as well as strawberries in early spring, with each generation focusing on a different crop first.
The Wests say part of what makes the business great for the farm is the employees.
“We have a lot of really great employees, but the fun part is in the market,” said Todd, where Ame is looking to bring in high school girls to work during the summer months.
“We bring high school girls into the market, and often it’s their first job,” she said. “I’m proud that we can start people in grade 10 and they usually stay with us until they graduate college. They come back every summer and we’re open from June to December.
“It starts with the strawberries and ends when the apples are all sold out,” Ame said, noting that any extra food is donated to the local food bank towards the end of the calendar year.
One of the things the Wests love about their job is interacting with clients.
“A lot of people say that, but I’m not sure they support that,” Ame said. “These are customers during the pandemic, we’ve brought things straight to their cars that don’t want to come into the market.”
With a family business and the partnership they’ve formed working together seven days a week for years, the Wests truly enjoy their work.
“For us, it’s a lot of work and a lot of fun and we’re only open six months a year,” Todd said. “We really appreciate being able to support the community and give back not only to customers, but also to other farmers and our employees in the community.”