Bauman Family Story
When Great Grandmother Elizabeth Bauman started farming in 1895, I’m sure she had no idea how many people her farm would eventually serve. Today Bauman Farms grows an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables sold exclusively at the farm market on Howell Prairie.
It wasn’t always such a large, well-run operation. For many years a horn honk signaled the arrival of a customer. A customer wanting a bushel of peaches, a sack of potatoes or just a friendly chat. Elizabeth’s grandson, Clyde, liked the friendly chats as well as the extra cash to feed his family of eight children.
Rick, one of Clyde’s younger children, married his next door sweetheart, Barb Zollner, and moved to the current location in 1977. He and Barb followed in Clyde’s footsteps raising seed and cannery crops as well as a few fruits and vegetables to feed their family and the “city folks.”
In 1988 they started a small farm market in hopes of raising enough money that Barb could stay at home with their budding family. It wasn’t much; just an addition Rick built beside the barn with two garage doors, handmade vegetable bins and an old family freezer that did double duty. It held the frozen berries and fruits inside and served as a bed for their kids on the outside. With kids in tow Barb would pick the berries and vegetables in the morning and open their little fruit stand at 1:00 and sell what they had. The few customers they had loved it, but they wanted more, more berries, different veggies and wanted them available longer than just one planting. So, they grew and grew. Rick hasn’t stopped building since.
Each year another greenhouse or store section has been added to better serve the expanding variety of offerings. First it was a few seedlings so customers could enjoy growing their own vegetables. Then people asked for petunias and hanging baskets. Barb kept having good ideas. Rick kept building. Barb offered customers a taste of her homemade zucchini bread. Rick added a small bakery. Barb bought a machine to make donuts using their fresh apple cider. Rick enlarged the bakery. They listened to what people wanted and that’s what they provided in response.
As the farm grew so did their family. They ended up with 4 kids, Brian, Amie, Cari & Sarah, and all work or help on the farm. In recent years they have also added 10 grandkids: Austin, Allison, Hailey, Madison, Josh, Jacob, Caden, Carly, Corbin, and Raegan.
Their son Brian, after completing his accounting degree, joined the business with an interest in horticulture. They expanded the nursery selection and included container plants and nursery stock. Rick built more greenhouses. Daughter Sarah had a passion for technology and photography. Rick added a Point of Sale System and added on to their display gardens for more photo opportunities.
To celebrate the harvest, October started out in 1987 as a month for their 4 kids to bring their classmates out to pick a pumpkin and play in a small maze made from left over straw. It now has become a full month of tours for over 8,000 school children during the week and family fun on weekends. All-in-all, over 100,000 people will visit Bauman’s Farm & Garden over a 6 week period each fall! To accommodate this growth, Rick expanded his building to ziplines, larger hay mazes, pedal carts, and hay castles. Some family members say he spent more time “testing” the entertainment than building it. Nevertheless, Great Grandmother Elizabeth would have approved. Her original farm included watermelons planted between the corn field just for fun, a community swimming hole complete with beach sand along the Pudding River, and a picnic area in a shady grove for family gatherings.
The family hasn’t changed much in the last 100+ years. Oh, they’ve gotten much larger and much more diverse. But they still work hard. They still gather for special occasions. And they still love a good time!
Thanks for visiting with the family on the farm. We sincerely appreciate your support. All of us, Rick & Barb to the youngest family members (Carly, Corbin and Raegan) hope you have a good time!