WEIRTON – The Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center continues its look at changes in communities and economies, reminding that sometimes moving forward requires looking back.
Saturday morning, the museum welcomed “Agritourism, Century Farms and Homesteads: How They Started, How They Adapted to Changing Times,” with presentations by Family Roots Farms and The Blended Homestead.
Savannah Schroll-Guz, president and executive director of the museum, noted that discussions would include adaptation efforts to keep local farms thriving, a point that aligns with the current exhibit. “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” on display at the museum in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institute’s Museums on Main Street program and the West Virginia Humanities Council.
“They really fit with the exhibition”, she said.
Britney Hervey Farris noted that although Family Roots Farm started in 2012 near Wellsburg, the land has been owned and operated by the Hervey family for seven generations.
Farris showcased some of his family’s history in his presentation, with family heirlooms, photographs and information from historical records on every generation, beginning with Henry Hervey, who claimed 400 acres through the rights of tomohawk and a payment of two pounds in the 1700s.
“That sense of family continues,” she says, explaining how the farm has been passed down through each generation, as well as some of the main products, including grains, dairy and beef.
Family Roots Farm started their business with corn on one acre.
“We did everything by hand; a hoe and a broom roughly,” she said of her and her husband, Charlie, early efforts.
With the help of his father and other family members, as well as the support of the community, they have since expanded into other vegetables, strawberries, sorgum and become known for their syrup production maple that started as a hobby and now includes 1,000 maple taps.
Family Roots Farm’s maple syrup has been recognized at numerous competitions across North America and has become a focal point of Mountain State Maple Days held each March.
Eric and Brianna Blend of The Blended Homestead don’t have the same farming roots as the Hervey family, they have found their own growth since starting their business in 2016.
“We do a lot of things on a small scale” Eric said, explaining that their farming started with a 0.3 acre backyard garden.
The Blended Homestead, in the process of moving to a larger property near West Liberty, strives to source as much locally as possible, as well as sell locally, in an effort to support the local economy.
“We want to inspire others” he said.
They experimented with a variety of products and methods, raising both laying and meat hens, pigs, various vegetables and bee hives, and for a few years were able to rent land nearby to provide the extra space.
They also contacted other local farmers for advice, including Family Roots Farm. Brianna explained some of the cooperative support provided by Family Roots Farm and the Barn with Inn, another Wellsburg business, when the three came together to host a progressive farm-to-table dinner.
“It was really interesting to work with them” she said, noting the visibility it offered working with established companies.
In 2020, the Blended Homestead founded the Highlands Farmers Market and expanded further with the creation of an apple butter line and the growth of its own ramps.
“We try to carry on the traditions that fall through the cracks”, said Eric.
Other events scheduled as part of the “Crossroads” the exhibition includes:
• 1:30 p.m., February 12, “Tea with Mary: A Tribute to Mary Shakely Ferguson,” with Molly Mossor.
• 7 p.m., February 16 “Music at the Mueum: RJ Gaudio Troubadour performs”
• 1:30 p.m., February 19 “Hancock County: From Pre-Industrial to Post-Industrial” with Lou Martin, Associate Professor of History at Chatham University
• 11:00 a.m., Feb. 26 Samuel W. Black, director of the African-American program at Sen. John Heinz History Center
• 7:00 p.m., February 26: The Ohio Valley Cloak and Dagger Co. performs
• 10:00 am, March 5, kid-friendly museum scavenger hunt and celebration of Weirton’s 75th anniversary as an incorporated town.
The exhibition will end on March 7.
(Howell can be reached at [email protected] and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)