Being a farm kid can be challenging yet fun. Getting up at the crack of dawn to get the cows milked is not any fun, especially in the middle of the winter. Getting to ride in the combine and maybe into a little mischief along the way, now that’s some good old-fashioned fun.
Bellefontaine native Jason Wish knows all too well about growing up on the farm. Jason grew up just outside of Bellefontaine on his family’s dairy farm, Wishwell Farms. Milking cows, planting crops and all the usual farm life things is exactly what filled his childhood and early adulthood.
Wishwell Farms began as a dairy and grain operation four generations ago. Currently, the grain operation still remains an integral part of the farm, however, the dairy was sold in 2001.
The name “Wishwell”, which obviously comes from their last name, also has some historical meaning. Frank Wish started a milk bottling company in Bellefontaine in the 1930s, called “Hopewell Dairy”, which used the milk from the original Wish dairy. Because the name “Hopewell” was already in use, Wish dairy decided to use the name “Wishwell”. The name “Hopewell” comes from the Hopewell Indians who once inhabited the area.
What began as a way to get rid of extra sweet corn from the family garden in the 1990s, grew into a blossoming business. It has become a full-time career for Jason and his family, who employ around 25 part-time workers during the summer months. In 1998 the produce sales at Wishwell Farms moved from the family garage to its current location on US Route 68 just North of Bellefontaine. The fruits and vegetables are grown on nearly 70 acres of family land and in several greenhouses.
Speaking of greenhouses, Jason starts his tomato plants in January, hydroponically, in greenhouses on the farm. Five to be exact. With over 2000 plants spread between the 5 greenhouses, Jason is one of the first farmers in Ohio to see ripe tomatoes, usually around late April to early May, with the first greenhouse being in full production by the third week of May. Be sure to check out this video for more information about Jason’s greenhouses and other farm stories at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk90_moQSHU
The most popular items grown on Wishwell Farms are sweet corn, and tomatoes, but also include summer and winter squash, cucumbers, peppers, green beans, melons, cabbage, lettuce, zucchini, eggplant, and pumpkins. Wishwell Farms also provides many other fruits and vegetables at their markets that are not grown on the farm.
This year, Wishwell Farms will sell produce at one full-time market at 5 Points in Marysville. Both markets are open seasonally, 6 days a week. On Saturdays from May through October you get Wishwell’s produce at farmer’s markets around the area including, Bellefontaine, Worthington, Clintonville, Powell, Dublin, and a handful of others. Each market carries a wide variety of ripe produce.
Each year something new is added to the market to shake things up a bit. In 2002, a Wish family recipe for sweet pepper relish was processed on a large scale from the vegetables grown on the farm. (Well, minus the onion.) The response from customers was so encouraging that a hot version was added the following year.
In 2011 Wishwell Farms opened their own certified kitchen in their old milk house, where they now process all of their relishes in small batches. Jason’s brother, Joel is the mastermind behind the relish, and added maple syrup to the family’s product list in 2016. Joel gathers sap from trees that are located less than 1 mile from the Wishwell Farm and then uses reverse osmosis to make it into maple syrup. Wishwell Farms offers a wide variety of plain and infused maple syrups. You can shop their store online at https://www.etsy.com/shop/WishwellFarms
Jason says that the secret to having a successful farm is having a whole lot of faith, a supportive family, remembering to take time to have fun, and selling produce that looks as good as it tastes. Other than farming, Jason is an avid hiker. You can catch many of his videos on his YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/@jasonwish-
Stay tuned for more stories just like this, telling the story of your friends and neighbors, right here in Logan County. Where we are Cultivating Community, one story at a time. Next up: Indian Creek Creamery.