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Small Business Spotlight: Schultz Valley Farms

Spend any amount of time with Josh and Lynne Schultz and you will quickly learn that they nurture more than the crops and animals they raise on their farm. The couple own Schultz Valley Farms, a spread of 350 acres in the fertile region between Bremen and Lancaster.

The pair love their land and their family. They enjoy growing things and teaching others. They thrive on feeding people and giving them healthy foods grown close to home. They are eager for what the future holds and happy to talk about consumer trends, marketing and treating their farm like a business.

When Josh was growing up, he was told it wasn't possible to survive as a full-time farmer. That conventional wisdom led him to an excavating career to support a passion for farming he cultivated on the side. He and Lynne have since figured out a way to defy the belief that small farmers can’t survive and they have grown their farm into a career for them both.

Today, Schultz Valley Farm is a recognizable brand that operates with a slogan that encourages consumers to "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food." However, those six words are much more than a slogan to these two as they live and breathe for making healthy food available in their community. Ask this pair to talk about their farm and they will tell the story together, finishing each other’s sentences and prompting the other to tell the next part of the story. It’s clear they make a good team.

Because their business model is all about running the farm like a grocery store, they make every effort to have a variety of foods for easy shopping. "We try to be our own little store. Customers don't want to piece together their shopping. They want what's convenient so it's important they be able to get everything they need at the farmer's market or from their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box instead of getting a few things from us and still have to go to the grocery store for what we didn’t have," Lynne explained.

Beef, pork and eggs are staples and they are well known for their tomatoes which are available from Memorial Day until Thanksgiving most years. They also grow about forty kinds of vegetables like asparagus, greens, sweet corn, green beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, mushrooms, peppers, turnips, pumpkins and cucumbers. "People tend to know us for tomatoes but we grow about anything from A to Z," Josh said.

But there's a bigger picture to what they do. "We want people thinking about where their food comes from and how far it travels to get to them. How was it grown? What went into growing it?" Josh asked.

As President of the Fairfield County Farm Bureau, Lynne is clearly passionate about this topic. "People don't realize how far their food has to travel to get to them. Most people don’t know the bulk of the beef sold in our grocery stores was raised in another country and shipped here for processing. Since it's processed here, it can be labeled U.S. Beef and they don't have to tell you it's from a foreign country."

At Schultz Valley Farm, everything is done with health and safety in mind. They use no chemicals, making it safe for their own children to walk out into the field and eat whatever they pick. "We are growing food for other families as well as our own so it has to be safe and chemical free," Lynne noted.

They also talk a lot about the importance of farming their land responsibly so future generations will have a farm to come back to if they wish. "I don't want our kids to feel like they have to do this but we want it here for them if that's what they want," Josh explained.

Their children, Lilly, Daniel, Michael and Sadie are between the ages of 5 and 14 and all have their own projects that play up their abilities and interests. “They all have things they love. Our 14-year old is interested in the bookkeeping. We’ve got one interested in the mechanics and they all love the livestock side,” Lynne said.

There are a number of ways to buy fresh food from Schultz Valley Farm. Each spring, customers can shop for vegetable and flower plants in their greenhouse while U pick strawberries are available for a few weeks starting in mid-May. They also sell fresh foods at the Lancaster Farmers Market and the Dublin Market at Bridge Park.

Customers who live in the region can choose what works best for them through the farm’s CSA program. Boxes are available in sizes best for a single person, a couple or a family. Plus, customers select their basket contents each week. Baskets can be picked up at one of four locations and they do offer home delivery to some areas.

Josh said they try to source supplies from Ohio and USA businesses when possible. For example, they use an Ohio source for the hanging baskets they will fill with flowers for sale in the greenhouse. Seeds from Ashville, NC are grown into juicy and flavorful watermelons.

A conversation with these two is about more than the land beneath their feet and the food they sell. He serves on the Rushcreek Township Zoning Board, she’s the Fairfield County Farm Bureau President and both are involved in other activities that support their own children’s interests and the community in general.

They speak passionately about a variety of topics related to farming and community including mental health among farmers. “Check on your farmer friends. Give them a call. Stop and visit. Winter is an especially hard time for them but this work is always stressful and the suicide rate among farmers is on the rise,” Josh said.

Lynne added that the Farm Bureau has resources and information to help farmers cope with the everyday stressors that make their work and lifestyle so hard.

Another way to help local farmers is to support them financially. “We are losing family farms all the time,” Josh said. “People notice and they complain about the housing developments and the solar farms taking over big old family farms. I always ask them what they’re doing to support that farm so another generation will want to keep it going. We have to buy from our small farms if we want to keep them around and if we want to preserve all that land for growing food. Where will your food come from if it all goes away?”

Josh and Lynne are actively planning for the future and one of the things they hope to do is to provide some education for all ages. They say there’s a disconnect between where we think food comes from and where it's actually grown. They said that people often don’t connect with the land, believing that food comes from the store and that chocolate milk comes from a brown cow. “Kids often believe that brown cows give chocolate milk. A lot of kids have never even seen a cow before!” Josh exclaimed.

That's why they often have groups visit the farm, do outreach in local schools and help where they can throughout the community.

They study consumer habits and try to be prepared for the next popular vegetable and for customers who are looking for quick and easy foods. Things like sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes are popular healthy snacks for kids. Roasts that take a long time to cook have gone out of vogue with the thirty-minute meal concept while stew meat and burgers are in demand.

Josh and Lynne would like to teach people how to preserve food through canning and how to make traditional meals like pot roast instead of cheeseburgers. They lament the loss of kitchen skills that generations past held dear like making pickles or homemade noodles and understanding how to use food before it spoils. “We dream of being able to have a shop here where people can come and buy what they want and where we can teach skills that will help people,” Lynne remarked.

They also dream of longer growing seasons. That's why they use three high tunnel greenhouses to lengthen their growing season for many vegetables and greens to about nine months a year. They have one eye on a future when they can extend their growing season to year-round.

There's an old adage that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket. While they're all in with their family business, it is clear Josh and Lynne have diversified their crops and other products so much that customers will find all the fresh items they need to feed their families.

It is a lifestyle for them and their family and one that seems to fit them well. "I can't imagine doing anything else," Lynne said.  "We've become better farmers being full time so I'm glad we were able to make that leap," Josh added. "It feels like we are where we are supposed to be."

Follow Schultz Valley Farms on Facebook and learn more at



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