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Success Stories

Eighth Generation Farm Expands its Roots into New Markets Thanks to Value-Added Producer Grant

Andrew Stacy
Value Added
Family Roots Farm is located in Wellsburg, West Virginia and produces maple syrup and all natural sweeteners.

It was 1775 when Henry Hervey decided to make his homestead in what is today, Wellsburg, West Virginia. Hervey paid two pounds of silver for the 400-acre plot and his original deed to the property was written on a buckskin hide. Over the years, the farm was known primarily for grain production and sheep. Then, in the 1950s, it transitioned into dairy farming and then beef. Eight generations and almost 250 years later, the farm is now known for its maple syrup and all natural sweeteners. The farm is owned by Fred Hervey and operated by his daughter Britney.

Maple Syrup production at the farm began in 2000 as part of a high school project that Britney Hervey Farris was working on with her dad. The project came to an end and as the years went by, Britney and her father continued to produce small amounts of maple syrup, but it was really more of a hobby. When Britney took over operation of the farm in 2012 with her husband, they wanted to continue in the family tradition and put the land to use. So, they decided to grow sweet corn and sell it at a roadside stand; however, they quickly began to realize that their customers were keen to get their hands on some of the farm’s maple syrup.

“Many of the people who stopped at the stand would ask about our family's maple syrup,” said Britney. “At the time we only had about 40 taps and made just for our family.”

So, they began ramping up the maple syrup production. Britney and her husband would attend farmers markets, fairs, and festivals to sell their products. The couple went from producing the syrup in a tiny shack to a unique, custom built sugar shack. They quickly developed a strong brand loyalty among customers. The couple prides themselves on small-scale production with a strong focus on quality and it shows in the rich caramel tasting maple syrup.  

Fred Hervey closely monitors the temperature of the evaporator during the production of maple syrup.
Fred Hervey closely monitors the temperature of the evaporator during the production of maple syrup.

“While we enjoyed attending farmers markets, fairs, and festivals - the time and travel commitment was overwhelming,” said Britney. “We recognized we were becoming burned out and would not be able to sustain the pace as our family began to grow.”

They loved the small business they had built and didn’t want to cut back. The reality was that unless they found a way to grow the business and take out some of that direct-to-consumer sales they knew they would have to scale back. The couple also knew that USDA Rural Development offered programs to help small businesses. In 2018, Family Roots Farm was awarded a Rural Energy for America Program grant to install a solar array to help reduce the energy cost of the production process. That investment helped the business reduce its energy costs and save it approximately $2,115 per year. Britney decided to again reach out to the Rural Development staff in West Virginia to see what options were available. That’s when they found the Value-Added Producer Grant, which helps agricultural producers enter value-added activities to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. In, 2023 Family Roots Farm applied for, and was awarded, a Value-Added Producer Grant to improve packaging and establish an online presence. Britney says the grant has helped take the business to the next level.

“The Value-Added Producer Grant has had a tremendous impact financially,” said Britney. “It provided the funds to invest in packaging development which we would not have had the means to do otherwise. We have been able to expand our product line, establish an online e-commerce, and increase retail outlets. Because of these things we’ve been able to cut back on our travel commitment yet increase our overall sales.”

Sales on the Family Roots Farm website has been very successful with little advertising. Britney says that the next step is to begin advertising and approaching new retail locations. One thing is for certain, Britney and her family will continue producing and selling great tasting maple syrup thanks to the assistance of the Value-Added Producer Grant.

“The best syrup is the one you make yourself,” said Britney. “Anyone who has made maple syrup before is going to tell you the same thing because it truly is a labor of love.”  

Family Roots Farm has been owned and operated by the Hervey Family for eight generations.
Family Roots Farm has been owned and operated by the Hervey Family for eight generations.
Obligation Amount:
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
  • West Virginia: District 1