For 40 seasons, Red Wagon Farm has invited visitors to celebrate summer’s bounty and autumn’s beauty in style.
Located on 200 acres in Columbia Station, the Ross family farm market has become a premier destination for just-picked freshness. The plentiful cornucopia of fruits and vegetables grown there — and at other local farms — includes six varieties of lettuce, three kinds of beets and 20 types of peppers — along with fresh-pitted tart cherries, blueberries, yellow watermelon, peaches, nectarines, apples, grapes, sweet onions, sweet corn, pickles (cukes and dill), tomatoes, green beans, acorn squash, yellow summer squash and zucchini.
“We love educating our customers about the farm-to-table concept and the incredible taste of fresh food,” says Shari Ross, who, along with her husband Eric and their three children, owns and manages the farm. “It’s awesome to see something grow, be able to pick it and sell it to someone, and then have that person come back again and again to tell us how good everything is.”
Popular special events include U-Pick Strawberries days in June and fall’s Pumpkin Festival, which features wagon rides, scarecrows and a 5-acre corn maze. The farm’s third-annual Corn Roast takes place on July 29 with a barbecue dinner and live music.
“Many of our visitors are dedicated to eating fresh, love to cook and want to teach their kids where good food comes from,” Ross says. “For example, strawberries just don’t show up on grocery store shelves — they’re definitely grown somewhere. And obviously, you’re going to get much better berries from our market than you would from ones that have been shipped from Mexico or California.
This season, the Ross family launched several new ventures.
Eric’s sister-in-law Rita Ross, a retired CPA and longtime baker, has opened Red Wagon Bakery, an irresistible place to partake of luscious sweets. Signature items include banana nut, blueberry crumble and zucchini quick breads; as well as fresh-from-the-oven pies in flavors ranging from apple, blackberry, caramel and apple nut to cherry, peach and strawberry rhubarb. Additional items baked daily include a variety of decorated sugar cookies, brownies and apple fritters. Selections — many of which change with the seasons — can be purchased when visiting or pre-ordered.
The idea for the new family-friendly Tap Room at Red Wagon Brewery was sparked by conversations Eric and Shari had with friends during the pandemic.
“We began talking about ways we could offer new things to see and do on the farm,” Shari says. “The Taproom features 12 taps with five selections from Red Wagon Brewing and five from local startup Four Paws Brewing — as well as a hard seltzer and hard cider. Our menu features a nice variety of cream ales, IPAs, stouts, a Kölsch and others that will change with the seasons.
“Craft beer customers,” she adds, “won’t be disappointed.”
The farm’s legacy is one the family proudly and lovingly tends. It began in 1965, when Eric’s father Richard, a postal carrier, and his wife Bess, sold their produce to their neighbors from the back of a red wagon. Business blossomed, the farm thrived and, following his parents’ retirement, Eric and Shari took the helm in 2001.
It’s such rewarding work,” Shari says. “We’re dedicated to continuing to create a great place for families. An outdoor patio is in the works, and leashed dogs are always welcome. It’s a one-stop-shop for a wonderful time.”