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FitLabPGH interviewed Rob Shenot of Shenot Farm and Market in Wexford, PA while touring the farm. They have an interesting story, as outlined on their website:
The Shenot Family came to the Wexford area in the mid-1850’s. During the early years of the farm, the operation included dairy cows, hogs and chickens, crops including apples, potatoes, grains and a few garden vegetables. Over the years each generation has focused on specific crops or products. Unfortunately, little is known about the earliest family members. Edward N. Shenot (1886-1948) grew significant acreage of potatoes. He was also known for his hard cider operation.
Edward’s son, John (Bill) Wilson Shenot became renowned for growing sweet corn. At this time there was a small roadside stand along Wexford Run Road where produce was sold seasonally along with milk. In the 1960’s, Bill sued the Allegheny County Health Department for the right to sell raw milk. After several defeats and appeals, Bill finally won the case in the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. Shortly thereafter, Bill sold his dairy cows to make way for his son’s crazy idea of focusing on fruits and vegetables. Bill was also a strong advocate for modern farming practices that build healthy ecosystems. He was also active in the earliest soil conservation efforts that introduced contour strip farming and cover cropping to the farm.
Bill’s son, Edward (Ed) Wilson Shenot, joined his father in the operation after earning a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from Penn State in 1971. This was a time of transition as cows, hogs and chickens were replaced with tomatoes, peppers and melons. Orchards have always been a major part of the farm with apples being at the core. However, Bill & Ed (father, son) were among the few in the region to have success growing peaches and nectarines.
Ed inherited the land from his parents and for many years worked along side his wife, Mary Lou and sister, Dianne. While Dianne had a full time teaching job, she eventually stepped away from the business to make room for future generations. Eventually, Ed and Mary Lou expanded the market to what you see today. This generation brought about changes to how our products were sold; what was once a small roadside shed quickly became a busy retail market built in 1972, then doubling in size in 1993. The growth of the retail market eliminated the need to haul extra produce to Pittsburgh’s strip district. The business also expanded to include homemade fudge and hayrides to the pumpkin patch.
Ed and Mary Lou have 3 children (Heather, Angie and Rob) and 6 grandchildren. All of their children reside in the Wexford area, though Rob is the only one involved in the farm full time. Ed and Mary Lou live on the farm in the home they built in 1973 and are both still involved in the day to day operations of the business.
Today Ed and Rob (father, son) focus mainly on the production of a near 80 acres of sweet corn and assorted vegetables, our 20 acres of orchard and of course, our award winning apple cider! Mary Lou, Ed’s wife, makes over 50 flavors of her signature fudge including caramel and fudge dipped apples as well as kettle corn. Leah, Rob’s wife, oversees the events that we host throughout the year and focuses on the marketing of the business.
Rob, his wife, Leah, and children, Pepper and Beau, live on the farm in their house that Rob built in 2005. Rob graduated from Penn State University in 2001 with a degree in Horticulture. He moved back to the farm and applied his newfound knowledge of farm technology to the business. He and Leah married in 2014; baby Pepper came along in 2016; and they welcomed baby Beau in January 2019. Together, they look forward to what the farm holds for their future.
Shenot Farm, Rob Shenot:
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Attribution for Intro/Exit Podcast Music:
Marathon Man by Jason Shaw from the album Audionautix: Acoustic, licensed under an Attribution 3.0 United States License. Available at www.FreeMusicArchive.org