West Orchards Farmer’s Market named Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year

The West family has operated a farm in Perry Township since 1891, with the West Orchards Farm Market operated and managed by five different generations, currently run by Todd and Ame West for 14 years.

Additionally, this is one of three farms in Lake County with an Ohio Century Farm Certificate to recognize the family’s 100 years of hard work on 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,” said Todd West. “There was no set work for each part of the business. Since I was 4 years old, I have been in the field with my family.

Ame West bends down to grab some purple cauliflower grown on her farm. (Sean Fitzgerald – The News-Herald)

Now, the West Orchards Farmer’s Market has been named Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year in 2022 and will be honored at a luncheon on January 27 with the award-winning Lake County Free Clinic. of the 2022 Beacon Prize.

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, former president of the Chamber of Commerce.

“We had absolutely no idea at all,” Todd said. “She got involved a lot with the Chamber of Commerce but wasn’t on any board or anything. So when they arrived, Ame burst into tears.

Todd and Ame West work with a ton of machinery to tend to the 70 acres of land they have. (Sean Fitzgerald – The News-Herald)

“There is a committee within the chamber and someone comes up with your name, with a few people from the committee proposing other names and possibly discussing two or three cases and narrowing it down to one,” she said. .

Todd says his grandfather Richard P. West was the defining figure who made the farming business what it is now as a fruit and vegetable farm versus “all kinds of farming with animals and all that”.

Todd and Ame said they were more interested in sweetcorn and peaches as well as strawberries in early spring, with each generation focusing on a different crop as a priority.

The Westes say part of what makes the company great for the farm is the people.

“We have a lot of really great employees, but the fun part is in the market,” said Todd, where Ame seeks to bring in high school girls to work during the summer months.

“We get high school girls to work in the market, and it’s often 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 from college. They come back every summer, and we are open from June to December.

“It starts with the strawberries and ends when the apples are all depleted,” 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 West’s love about their job is the interactions with customers.

“A lot of people say that, but I’m not sure they support it,” Ame said. “These are customers during the pandemic, we took things straight in their cars that don’t want to enter the market.”

With a family business and the partnership they’ve formed by working together seven days a week for years, the Westers really enjoy their job.

“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 love being able to provide for the community and give back not only to customers, but also to other farmers and our employees in the community. “

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