Luther Farms has been family-owned and operated since 1900. Rudolph Luther came to America from Switzerland at age 11 in 1868. His family settled in Stark County where Rudolph spent his boyhood and eventually married another Swiss immigrant named Mary Biery. Soon after marrying, they moved to Akron where Rudolph was engaged in the distribution of milk and dairy products. When some of his siblings pulled up roots and decided to move to Kansas, Rudolph stuck it out in Northeast Ohio. He managed two local farms, the Stouffer and Brush Farms, then decided to go out on his own. In 1900, he purchased 100 acres in Richfield for $3600 at a sheriff's auction. It was originally a dairy farm with 12 milking cows that were hand milked twice a day. The milk was carried to the end of the road to wait along with other farmers' milk to be hauled to the Peninsula railroad.
Rudolph and his wife Mary had five children Edward W., Ida, Harvey, Laura, and John. Edward was 18 when his father purchased the farm and in 1901 started farming. Nine years after beginning to farm, he married Eva White and they raised five children: Louise, Rudolph (Rudy), Elmer, Arthur, and Ellen. In 1915, fire burned their farmhouse to the ground. While it was being rebuilt, they lived in the granary behind Harvey's and Edna's house just feet from where the farm market is today!
Everyone had chores. The three boys each milked three cows before school and had several other jobs as well. The girls had to pull weeds, pick strawberries, shuck wheat, husk corn, pick potatoes, and hoe thistle from the field. After completing their chores, they would ride to Richfield school on the "kid wagon". All five children graduated from Richfield High School.
At this time, all farming was done with horse-driven equipment or man power. In 1930, Eva began the chicken and egg business. She would trade eggs for groceries in town. In 1934, Louise and Ellen began working for B.F. Goodrich in Akron where they befriended Helen Boughton, who was also from a farming family in Copley. They set Helen up with their brother Rudy, and the two were later united in matrimony. In 1936, the farm was wired for electricity, and they were able to buy an electric milker.
During the 1940's, the Luthers built a dam that formed a lake which provided entertainment for those who wished to rent it. 1940 also brought the first purchase of a tractor, a Farmall H, and they sold their last team of horses, Dick and Dock. This also ended a somewhat large maple syrup operation due to the tractors not being able to navigate the narrow paths that the horses could.
Rudolph Luther had since passed and had been buried in the West Richfield cemetery. Mary sold the 100 acres to her son Edward for a mere $10.00. Rudy upgraded his mother's egg business and built the double deck chicken house (still located on the farm today) with wood from the Cleveland air show. Rudy sold eggs door to door in Brecksville and Parma (which continued until 1970).
In 1945, Art returned from his tour of duty and established a partnership with his brother Rudy. All of the Luther sons (Art, Rudy, and Elmer) had married and built houses on the farm. In 1957, the big white barn was purchased for $500, but cost $4,500 to have it moved from the Newton Farm on Broadview Road. This was also the year that Edward was named "Farmer of the Year" by the Cleveland Farm Club. Also in the 1950's, the silo was purchased and moved from Northampton and relocated to it's current site on the farm. Government restrictions forced Arthur to sell the dairy cows, and he chose to raise Angus cattle.
Between the years of 1946 and 1961, Rudy and Helen had seven children: Dorothy, Barbara, Robert, Ronald, Betty, Marilyn, and Edward. All of the children were part of daily farm life and helped with chores. In 1964, the Luthers built a top-notch chicken house that housed 9,000 chickens which in turn produced 6,000 eggs a day. The children were responsible for collecting and the wives of the Luther brothers were in charge of washing, grading, and packaging the eggs for sale, a process that took 3-4 hours daily.
In 1970, Robert (Bob) married Diane. Diane and Bob had five children: Scott, John, Timothy, Daniel, and Sarah. In 1972, Rudy became paralyzed in a farming accident dismantling a grain bin in Medina when he fell from a ladder. Bob became partner in the farm operation after his father's injury. Even though Rudy was injured, he still did his part beekeeping,sharpening tools, and giving Art and Bob advice. Eight years later, Bob and younger brother, Edward (Eddie) bought Arthur's part of the business.
In January 1982, the red barns that had stood on the farm for so long burned to the ground due to an electrical short in old wiring during a cold windy day. The fire was fought by seven local fire departments for over 13 hours, and they managed to save the white bank barn which is still being used today.
In 1989, Eddie married Gale, and they moved into Harvey's house and had four boys, Edward, Andrew, Brian, and Cody.
In 1993, the Luther family gave up the poultry and egg business and focused on cash crops and beef. That is the same year that they opened Luther's Farm Market. The market started as a small stand in front of Gale and Eddie's house. The growing interest of the community drove the Luthers to upgrade first to a lean-to off their garage, and then the separate building that serves as the market today.
In the mid to late 1990's, Bob and Eddie were branching out to meet the needs of the community. They made maple syrup, bred beef cattle, and ran the market. In 2000, Luther Farms celebrated 100 years of farming.
In 2003, Eddie was diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Eddie sold his part of the partnership to Bob's son Tim. Eddie gave his opinion and directions often to Tim to help him in the process. Tim had grown up on the farm and knew what hard work was, but he is thankful for the helpful advice that Eddie gave him. In 2006, Eddie passed away and was laid to rest with his family in the Richfield Cemetery.
Bob, Tim, and Andy Luther now run the farm and the market. The farm has seen over 100 years of love, loss, heartache, determination, and the unfailing tenacity of the family and farmers that have tended to her. Here is to 100 more years.
Photo from Sun Times - CLICK HERE for ARTICLE