Rocky Creek Farm, well known for its pumpkin patch, homemade cider operation and haunted swamp, has changed hands.

Husband and wife Matt and Jacy Rothschiller, owners of Gallatin Valley Botanical, bought the 50-acre property in a deal finalized in late October.

The pair, who began farming in Manhattan in the early 2000s, had purchased 7 acres of land from Rocky Creek owners Pete and Nancy Fay around 2008. Over the past decade, the neighbors developed a close relationship, Pete Fay said, helping out with each other’s operations.

“We worked side by side, my equipment was their equipment. Matt and I had a great friendship and working relationship,” the 76-year-old said.

Matt Rothschiller, 45, had long told Pete Fay that when he was ready to retire, Rothschiller and his wife would buy the rest of the land from him. In early 2016, Fay, who now lives in San Diego with his family, said he was ready. With help from local investment company HomeStake Venture Partners, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Montana Ale Works (Gallatin Valley Botanical’s largest customer), the couple raised enough to foot the bill, which Matt Rothschiller described as somewhere “in the low seven figures.”

The farm, started in 1981, has operated under a conservation easement through the Gallatin Valley Land Trust since 2006.

The new owners have plenty of plans for the land. Next year, Matt Rothschiller hopes to have the entire property certified organic, adding broiler chickens to its current small packs of sheep and pigs, as well as up to 150 kinds of produce that the farm sells at markets and through its seasonal community-supported agriculture program.

“We’re going to be able to supply more produce to the community, which is great,” he said, adding that the farm employs five year-round workers and more than 15 in the summer.

A Bozeman High School grad, Matt Rothschiller grew up in the Gallatin Valley and met his wife after the two graduated from Montana State University in the 1990s. They have two children, Zachary, 11, and Ania, 7.

As for the popular public side of the farm, most of that will stick around, Matt Rothschiller said. The new owners plan to keep the pumpkin patch, the pick-your-own berries, add more apple trees and expand the cider operation, in addition to run-of-the-mill improvements to the property. The annual haunted swamp event, however, will not return.

The name of the farm is still up for debate, Matt Rothschiller said, but for now the farm remains under the Rocky Creek title.

“It’s a somewhat natural progression of any small business that grows over time,” he said of the acquisition. “We’ve been a strong part of local vegetable agriculture in the Gallatin Valley for 15 years now, and we’re excited to have been able to (add to) that.”

“I just can’t tell you how glad I was that the farm could stay a farm,” Pete Fay added. “To me, it’s a wonderful outcome, and if anyone can do it, they can.”

Kendall can be reached at 406-582-2651 or lkendall@dailychronicle.com. He is on Twitter at @lewdak

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Lewis Kendall covers business and the economy for the Chronicle.

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