Just Piddlin Farm provides family fun

Posted on Oct 2, 2013
Chip Willingham might be just piddlin around with the roadside farm market that he and his family operate in Simpson County, but that doesn’t mean he has a casual approach to it.  To the contrary, he’s quite devoted to providing a quality experience for families.

“Our focus is on the family,” he said while showing a visitor the playground adjacent to his market center, which is a huge barn that once was used for cattle auctions. “We want families to look forward to coming here and having fun and relaxing.”

The market center barn once was used for cattle auctions.
The market center barn once was used for cattle auctions.

The aptly-named Just Piddlin Farm is on 172 acres off KY. 73 near South Union, at the northwest tip of Simpson County.  It’s one of KFB’s Certified Roadside Farm Markets, and a popular area attraction for the fall market season.

The market, in fact, is only open from mid-September to early November as the Willingham family focuses on the fall specialties: pumpkins, mums, gourds and things for the kids to do, like navigate a 6.4-acre corn maze, pet a calf, ride tricycles through a course, go down a slide, play in a corn box, take a hay ride through the farm or crawl through a straw maze.

The main attractions are the corn maze and a 6-acre pumpkin patch. Customers are provided wagons for their U-pick experience. As Halloween approaches, weekends bring plenty of pickers to the patch, Chip says.

“On Saturdays we’re usually very busy,” he said.

Just Piddlin Farm came to be in quite a round-about fashion for Chip and Jill Willingham, neither of whom are from the area. Chip was raised on a cattle farm in Henderson County and Jill on a dairy farm in Monroe County. They met at Western Kentucky University. Chip is now a regional sales manager for a major chemical manufacturer and Jill teaches biology at Greenwood High School in Bowling Green.

The couple were living on a farm in Fayette County when Chip’s sales territory  was changed to southern states, mandating a move. Needing to be reasonably close to a major airport (Nashville),  Chip looked for farms for sale in the area. He found a 42-acre site adjacent to the farm where the market is now located. The Willinghams won the auction bid for the property and built a house on it, living in what Chip describes as “an old shack” while the house was under construction.  Meanwhile, Chip dabbled in growing pumpkins and alfalfa hay, plus had a bee hive.

Several years later the owner of the neighboring farm decided to sell and offered Chip first chance to buy.

“It was a bit of a risk but I thought it was a good opportunity,”  he said Chip. “I travel around a lot and see a lot of things in agriculture;  I felt this type would work well here. And it’s a good way for us to get involved with the community.  I decided to make this my hobby. Some people have boats, some people have motorcycles . I have this.

“That’s why we named it ‘Just Piddlin.’”

It’s a family affair: Daughters Sydney (15) and Kendall (8) are active with the operation and Chip’s brother Chris and sister-in-law Amy handle the corn maze. Additionally, Chip says neighbors will help out. Plus there are two part-time employees.

The Willinghams grow the pumpkins and gourds and get their mums from a local producer. Chip leases much of the farmland for row crop production. And he has a bee hive that he uses to teach youngsters about how bees contribute to agriculture production through their pollination activities.

Most of the customers come from Franklin, Russellville and Bowling Green, each of which are within a short drive. Just Piddlin advertises in all three cities.

The Winninghams also have an attractive web site (www.justpiddlinfarm.com)  and a Facebook presence.

In keeping with their community focus, the Willingham family opened their market season on September 14 by having 5K and 10K runs through the farm with proceeds benefitting the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs of Franklin and Bowling Green. Chip says they had around 50 runners “and a lot of volunteers.”

Tagged Post Topics Include: Bowling Green, Boys and Girls Club, Certified Roadside Farm Markets, Chip Willingham, Corn maze, Fayette County, Franklin, Greenwood High School, Henderson County, Jill Willingham, Just Piddlin Farm, Monroe County, Nashville, Pumpkin Patch, Russellville, Simpson County, Western Kentucky University