In Oct. 25 IssueBy Derek AaronRussell County News Editor
At French Valley Farms, this is a busy time of year. With Halloween less than a week away and the fall decorations season at its peak, David Rexroat says his farm, across from Minit Mart in Jamestown, has had a most productive fall despite the current economic woes.
“It started over at mom and dad’s,” he said. “I guess, all together, about 20 years I’ve been doing this.”
Rexroat’s farm has been a member of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Roadside Market for five years as well.
He said his parents, Ronnie and Merlene, and his brothers started raising flowers nearly two decades ago on their French Valley farm.
It is a family deal ... one that he has passed on into his family as his wife, Tonya, helps out as well as his daughter, Mackenzie, and his mother-in-law, Mary Jo Woodrum.
“I was actually the first one to start doing the pumpkins, decorative gourds and fall decorations and it started to catch on,” he said.
Rexroat said at that time, there were few people that actually grew the pumpkins and gourds in bulk to sell.
“I bought this place (on US 127) in 1996 and moved it down here and decided to keep the name because that is where mom and dad had their farm,” he said.
Rexroat, who is also a teacher at Russell County High School and coach of the RCHS Laker baseball team, says with his busy schedule his business is only open during the fall season.
“We get a lot of tourists passing by and seeing a yard full of pumpkins and stopping in to check it out,” he said.
“And we get a lot of local regulars, too.”
He said one of the best parts about his business was meeting people passing through from bigger cities or heading to Lake Cumberland.
“They just keep coming back year after year, they call it a tradition,” he said with a smile.
“I’ve met one family that goes to the lake, they’re from Louisville, they bring their grandkids down here every year to get their pumpkins on the way back.”
Rexroat said he and his family used to raise eight to 10 acres of gourds, pumpkins and mums but that number has since reduced to three or four acres. Aside to these, Rexroat now sells mini decorative hay bales.
This year, Rexroat said his 25-30 pound pumpkins down to his small “pie” pumpkins have been most popular.
“We’ve sold quite a few of those,” he said.
Rexroat said he grew several thousand of the decorative gourds, and had between 4,500 to 4,800 pumpkins to sell at his farm’s fall peak.
After Halloween, Rexroat said he begins to shut down his operation.
“But this year we’re going to set up shop out there on Halloween and have safe trick-or-treating for the kids,” he said.
His farm, on the old Blankenship property, still has some of the Blankenship barn which he has moved and restored into his place of business next to his home.
“Eventually I’d like to add some more things and maybe open up in the summer months and sell some produce because we get so much lake traffic,” he said.
His business has become so popular this time of year that he said he could spend most of his time waving at passers-by instead of working with the fall decor.
His prices this year are as follows: a large pumpkin for $5 or $6, a $3 and $4 range and then a $2 range for the smallest ones, mums, which are now sold out, were $3 to $5 while mini hay bales are $3 as well.
Painted pumpkins are anywhere from $3 to $8. The painted pumpkins consist of Halloween faces, UK and U of L themes pumpkins and certain NASCAR drivers’ numbers.
He started doing the painted pumpkins several years ago and have since become a hit with patrons.
Rexroat, whose family also owns P & J Trophies and Awards next to his home, said he hoped to travel to different fall festivals in the area in the coming years and set up shop there to sell as well.
He said that when he can retire, on down the line, that he knows he will be able to concentrate more on French Valley Farms and it give it his complete attention.
“We’re not getting rich but it is something we’re going to continue,” he said.
“It is a family tradition.”
One that has stood the test of time and one that Rexroat can be proud of.