Geauga County is full of delightful places, one of the most charming of which is Sunrise Farm on Route 87 in Burton Township.
Open year round, the red barn shop at 13115 Kinsman Road features fresh seasonal décor and offerings to tempt shoppers.
Dan Whiting and his wife, Karen, are the proprietors.
“My dad bought the property in 1964,” Dan recalled. “He grew up on a dairy farm in Chester, so initially, we also had cows. We sold them in 1969, about the time that I sold sweet corn by the side of the road to put myself through college at Kent (State University).”
Dan returned to run the farm in the mid 1970s. At Christmas time, the family sold cider, eggs, apples and apple butter in a peck basket from the farmhouse porch. It proved to be very popular, he said.
“We realized we had a desirable commodity,” Dan added. “We decided to put up a tent in the autumn to sell pumpkins and apples. Then there was an October snowstorm, during which the tent died an unseasonable death. We’d been dreaming about building a little market before the storm forced our hand.”
That was in 1980.
Initially, the shop was open only during growing season. However, as the challenges of farming continued — “you’re at the mercy of the weather,” Dan noted — it seemed wise to keep the shop open all year round.
Therefore, they decided to add to their staple items of farm fresh cider, made by the family’s own mill, and apple butter from copper kettles heated by the steam from the mill.
“A second source of revenue brought us some peace of mind,” Dan said, adding by 1990, they’d made the transition.
Initially, the shop focused on miniature fairies, but when the market peaked, the Whitings adapted.
“Karen does all the decorating,” said Dan. “She’s the more creative one. She finds it a challenge to design new displays and stock appealing new merchandise. She’s really a master at devising beautiful arrangements.”
Anyone who visits the shop would likely agree.
“When you step inside, it’s very cozy, like a winter sanctuary. We want people to experience what isn’t available at malls or department stores anymore: a sense of being welcomed and having our full attention. It’s something you don’t see anymore, anywhere,” Dan said. “It always smells so good here.”
The shop is currently offering its specialized Christmas baskets.
“Our most popular is the Geauga County Gift Basket, which contains pumpkin butter, pure maple syrup, apple butter, pancake mix from Fowler’s Mill, Swiss cheese from Middlefield and maple candy,” Dan said.
Other traditionally sought-after choices include the Family Farm Basket, which contains a jug of pure maple syrup, maple candy, buttermilk pancake mix from Fowler’s Mill, fresh fruit preserves made in the family farm kitchen (which Dan stresses is not a jelly, as it contains chunks of fresh fruit), muffin mix, holiday coffee, tea and a jar of the farm’s own apple butter. The goodies come in a plaid cloth-lined wicker basket.
There’s also the Very Merry Christmas Bucket, in which the following come in a handsome galvanized pail: pure Geauga County maple syrup, gingerbread pancake mix from Fowler’s Mill, Christmas coffee, half a pint of Sunrise Farm’s apple butter along with half a pint of pumpkin butter, maple candy and holiday yoghurt covered pretzels shaped like snowflakes.
All the baskets and containers are very nicely wrapped with fancy homemade bows.
In addition, the shop offers customers the opportunity to create their own baskets from their array of soaps, fruits, nuts, Harlow’s maple corn (invented by Dan’s father, Harlow Whiting, in 1959), chocolates, large specialty candy canes, mild cheddar cheese in holiday design molds shaped like Christmas trees, candy canes and Frosty the Snowman.
The shop carries other gourmet cheeses and a wide variety of pancake mixes from Fowler’s Mill, as well as a recent addition from New Hope Mills of banana caramel pancake mix. There is an array of local honeys available.
Fresh live Christmas trees are for sale and located both indoors, for times of inclement weather, and outdoors.
Customers can find a wealth of ornaments and scented candles as well.
However, despite their wide variety of holiday offerings, the Whitings encourage customers not to confine their visits just to Christmas.
Sunrise Farm’s décor and merchandise changes throughout the seasons, Dan said.
In February, Valentine’s Day gifts become available, while March brings St. Patrick’s Day. There’s an annual Easter egg hunt in the greenhouse, and of course, flowers and bedding plants in the spring. Fresh strawberries take center stage in the summer.
“We are very appreciative of our customer base and want to make everyone happy,” Dan said. “We want people to enjoy their experience of visiting our shop. And we wish everyone a Merry Christmas, too.”
Sunrise Farm is open Mondays through Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can find the farm on Facebook, Instagram and get more information by visiting sunrisegifts.com or calling 440-834-1298.