In 1996, Sam and Mary Jane Roop wanted to begin a family project with their three small children (ages 10, 8, and 5). The idea was that this project would take the form of a small business and the profit would be saved for Julie, Lauren, and Jake’s college education. As Sam and Mary Jane began dreaming about the project and business, they wanted to incorporate agricultural education, the family farm, and each family member’s gifts and strengths.
Later that year, Brookfield Pumpkins was born. Sam and Mary Jane planted and harvested just one acre of pumpkins and gourds and much to their surprise, they quickly ran out of pumpkins (!) because business was that good! The public loved the patch and the experience of being on a working farm.
As the business grew, a lot changed. The girls stopped painting faces for a quarter and started selling produce and managing marketing and advertising. Sam wisely began planting up to 15 acres of pumpkins and became affectionately known to returning customers as “Farmer Sam”! (Fortunately, the patch has not run out of pumpkins since the first year of operation!) Jake, who once sat in the tractor cab while Farmer Sam planted pumpkins, now drives hayrides of customers to the patch. And Mary Jane, the brains behind the business, has been so moved by her faith and her own suffering that she now gives away all proceeds raised from the Corn Maze to local charities and ministries.
To give you a quick update on the Roop family…
Julie lives on a dairy farm in Delevan, New York, with her husband, Eric, and her daughter, Bailey. She is the Chamber Services Director at Arcade Area Chamber of Commerce as well as the Ministry Coordinator at her church. Lauren and her husband, Jordan, live in Norman, Oklahoma, where Jordan attends law school and Lauren works in development for a non-profit Christian ministry. Jake is a 5th grade teacher and his wife, Sarah, works in the chaplain’s office at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. While life, love, and school have taken the Roop children all over the country, they still make special visits to work weekends at the patch and help with aspects of the business throughout the year.
To share a bit of the farm’s history…
Brookfield Farms has been in the Ramsburg and Roop families for over 100 years. The Roop children represent the sixth generation to be raised on the farm. Farmer Sam stays busy 12 months out of the year working full-time on the farm–planting and harvesting crops (corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay) and raising a small herd of beef cattle. (If you’d ever be interested in purchasing some of our grass-fed beef, let us know!) In addition to keeping the books for the farm and pumpkin patch, Mary Jane enjoys her full-time job as a loan officer for an agricultural lending company in Frederick, Maryland.