Gerhart’s Garden, located at 33840 Lorain Road in North Ridgeville, is thrilled to celebrate its 30th anniversary in October. The Farmer’s Market, which began in 1992, has a rich history from its humble beginnings.
Original owner and founder Norman Gerhart started the business with his wife Mona Lou shortly after retiring as a baseball field construction worker. The decision to retire came shortly after he found out his wife was sick.
In order to spend more time at home with her while keeping finances in place, the Gerharts decided to open a small roadside store in front of their house. His daughter Norma Adams took over the establishment after retirement returned for her parents, and still maintains the shop today.
“My parents started with four or five round tables of produce that they grew and sold. People came from here and there and before we knew it, it just kept growing,” says Adams.
To compensate for the large influx of customers, the family buys a tent and moves their work there. Following the death of Norman Gerhart in 2013, Adams took over full-time.
“It was a little difficult and nerve-wracking to take over, but it was also super exciting. I mean the company is not that big, but it is huge for us,” she said.
Since then, Adams has carried on his father’s legacy by hosting celebrations and raising money for local nonprofits during booth season.
“We try to choose nonprofits that fit our family in some way and tend to rotate four or five each year,” she said.
This year, Gerhart’s Garden is raising funds for Project NICU, a non-profit organization located in Cleveland. The group focuses on raising funds for the families of babies in neonatal intensive care units and the medical staff who care for them.
Adams explained that the decision to partner with them came after his nephew’s son arrived three months early earlier this year.
“My nephew is a big supporter of the company and helps out with the celebrations planned for October, so it seemed necessary to choose the NICU project,” says Adams.
The same nephew is the prime candidate to take over the business when Adams retires.
“We try to keep the business in the family. We have a lineage for ownership,” says Adams. “I am the youngest of my siblings, so it will probably be grandchildren or great-grandchildren who will eventually take over. It is simply important that we continue to educate younger generations about our heritage so that it is not lost.
Adams says she looks forward to the fall season and festivities, and urges everyone to check Gerhart’s Garden Facebook page for upcoming events as it approaches.