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Pickering Hill Farms began in the mid-1800’s, when Jack Pickering came from England and started a ranch and meat business. His son Frank later began to raise vegetables, selling them to Cleveland’s west side communities. He built a market on the present site in the 1930’s to sell his goods.

John, his grandson, took over the operation in the 1960’s and, in 1997, John’s son Jay built a 6,000 square foot market to serve the growing population of Avon. The Pickering family still runs the business today.

Pickering Hill Farms Today

Today Pickering Hill Farms consists of two farming locations, the original farm and market on Pickering Hill in Avon and Jay and Lill’s farm in Grafton Township. The Avon farm consists of 12 acres of the original Pickering farm farmed by Frank. Frank chose his land well. The land in Avon sits on one of Lake Erie’s old beaches making the soil very sandy. This sandy soil provides us with excellent drainage as well as being a great growing medium for our sensitive fruits and vegetables. We rent another 13 acres in Avon, most of which is more of the beach sand. Avon’s proximity to Lake Erie provides us frost protection, in both the spring and fall. For these reasons we grow our earliest sweet corn here as well as most of our other small acreage items (tomatoes, peppers strawberries etc.)

The Grafton Township (Belden) farm sits 20 miles south of the Avon farm and is where Lill and Jay live. Lill and Jay purchased this farm in 1992 to provide Pickering Hill Farms with enough land to continue farming as houses replaced some of the rented farmland in Avon. Here we grow our mid and late season sweet corn and most of our pumpkins on 50 acres. Much of our soil here was deposited by the nearby east branch of the Black River giving it a unique gravely texture which is well suited for holding moisture during the dry months of late summer. During sweet corn season Jay, their kids and dog Maple start every day by picking the day’s sweet corn then bringing is to the market in Avon.

Bios

Lill and Jay
As mentioned previously Lill and Jay live on the Grafton Farm with their four children and dog Maple. Their children: Ethan, Jason Rachel and Tessa all help on the farm. Jay runs the farm and is a Chemistry and Physics teacher at Lorain High School. He has a B.A. from The College of Wooster and Masters Degree from Bowling Green State University. Lill runs the market and has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Cleveland State University.

Karel Pickering
Karel, Jay’s mother, still helps although she describes her role as semi-retired. Karel keeps herself very busy delivering meals on wheels to local elderly people, visiting people in the local nursing homes and keeping very active in the Avon United Methodist Church.

In Memory of John Pickering 1929 - 2003

I would be remiss in creating this “about us page” if I did not tell you about my father John. He was the original face behind the current Pickering Hill Farms. He grew up helping his grandfather Frank on the farm and grew to love it. His intention was to be a full time farmer and to that end he earned a degree in agriculture from Ohio State. (He always talked about having Woody Hayes as a history professor while at Ohio State.) Farming had to be part time though; the cost of raising a family and the inconsistencies of farming income forced him to become a teacher. He ended up really enjoying teaching and did it for 31 years, 9 years at Clearview High School and 22 at Avon High School retiring in 1991. During this time, he kept farming and in the mid 1970’s we began to run the old market which for a few years was run by my grandparents. Lavern and Catherine and was rented out for a few years before that. My father loved growing things, but admittedly did not enjoy the selling part as much, that became my niche. He was a humble guy who believed in people, a handshake and a promise were all that should needed. He taught and lived his life that way. Below are a couple of newspaper clippings about him that summarize him well.

- Jay

article john pickering

Employees

Our customers are constantly telling us how good our employees are and we know we have some good ones. From one year to the next some of the names change (as they go off to college or take full time jobs elsewhere), but we have been fortunate over the years to find intelligent, caring workers both in the market and the fields.