Brumfield Farms thrives on diverse production

Posted on Aug 28, 2013
Hopkins County farmer Shawn Brumfield expresses a bit of amazement when reflecting on the family farm operation.

“We’re so diversified . . .you’d think no one would be so crazy to do what we do,” he said matter-of-factly.

Brumfield Farm Market was established a few years ago on the outskirts of Madisonville.
Brumfield Farm Market was established a few years ago on the outskirts of Madisonville.

Throw in a herd of cattle or a couple broiler houses and it truly would be pretty amazing at Brumfield Farms, a few miles northwest of Madisonville. As it is, the production of sod, tobacco, produce and row crops makes it quite hectic and very interesting for Shawn, his father, David Brumfield, and their four migrant workers. All told, they are attending to a large-scale sod operation, 20 acres of dark and burley tobacco, 25 acres of produce and around 200 acres of row crops.

And then there’s a roadside farm market on busy U.S. 41A on the outskirts of town. Shawn’s mom, Linda, attends to that chore along with four employees. The market is open six days a week and over the course of the year has plenty to offer those looking for farm-fresh goods. The produce menu includes sweet, corn, tomatoes, all types of peppers, okra, strawberries, greens, squash, eggplant, cucumbers, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, celery, brussel sprouts, watermelon and cantaloupe.  Autumn brings pumpkins and mums. Spring is a hot time for bedding plants.

Variety of vegetables on display at Brumfield Farm Market.
Variety of vegetables on display at Brumfield Farm Market.

Brumfield Farm Market also is known for carrying popular Kentucky products like ice cream from Chaney’s Dairy Barn, Gatton Country Meats, Katelyn’s Honey, Ruth Hunt Candy, Mingua Beef Jerky and an assortment of jams, jellies and preserves. It is a participant in KFB’s Certified Roadside Farm Market program.

The family opened the market just four years ago after years of selling from the farm itself (which is about seven miles from the market building), at farmer’s markets and, on occasion, through wholesale channels and marketing cooperatives. The site of their roadside market formerly was a residence. The old home was removed and the market building constructed.

The Brumfields are aggressive marketers and experts at raising produce.

“It’s been a family tradition for many generations,” said Shawn. “We have a photo of Brumfield Produce from 1912, but it goes back even further. I’ve been in it since I was very little.”

The Brumfields raised burley and dark tobacco for years but gave up burley for a few years after the price support program was abolished. But with demand and prices on the rebound, burley is in the mix of the 20 acres of leaf that Shawn controls. David, meanwhile, handles most of the sod business. The father-son team splits the work with the produce. “Dad and I are pretty much co-managers,” Shawn said.

Shawn is the current Hopkins County Farm Bureau president plus is chairman of the District 2 Young Farmer Committee. His wife, Shannon, is chairman of the women’s committee. David is a past county president and continues to serve on the board of directors.

A couple years ago the Brumfields got into the popular Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business. They now have around 50 customers who pick up a basket of produce for 18 consecutive weeks during the production season. It starts with greens and strawberries in the spring and then the big bounty begins in early July when sweet corn and tomatoes become available.

“We have a real good mix for them,” says Shawn.

On the few occasions when there’s a surplus, the Brumfields will send product to the Fairview auction in Todd County, about 50 miles southeast.

“We’ve done about everything you can think of to sell,” said Shawn.

When reflecting on the Brumfield operation, and considering this era of specialization, one has to wonder how they know how to grow so many different things.

“We’ve made our share of mistakes with some things, but there’s a lot of information out there to help us,” Shawn explained. “I tried celery for the first time this year and did well with it. Next year I might try something else. It’s fun to grow fresh produce. I love to sell it because you can tell it’s special to the customers.”

Tagged Post Topics Include: Broiler, cattle, Chaney's Dairy barn, CSA, David Brumfield, Fairview Produce Auction, Gatton Country Meats, Hopkins County, Katelyn's Honey, Linda Brumfield, Madisonville, Mingua Beef Jerky, Produce, Row Crops, Ruth Hunt Candy, Shawn Brumfield, Sod, Tobacco, Todd County