How Bob Evans Tried To Protect The Environment

While Bob Evans' "Down on the Farm" may seem like just another catchy commercial jingle, it's the essence of who Bob Evans, the man, really was, and the impetus for his legacy. Many of us hear the tune, or travel past one of the iconic red barn restaurants, and think biscuits and gravy, or chocolate cake. We think of good food in a friendly, down-home environment. But did you know that Bob Evans was first and foremost a farmer?

Born in Sugar Ridge, Ohio in 1918, Evans eventually "married his childhood sweetheart" and settled a few hundred miles away on a farm near Rio Grande, Ohio, according to Ohio History Central. There, he and his wife started a family. In Gallipolis, the next town over, Evans operated a diner that served up sausage made from the meat of his own farm-raised hogs. That location opened in 1948 and only had "12 stools," according to the Bob Evans company history, but it eventually grew to be so popular that Evans expanded with a larger restaurant in 1962, located right on site at the farm, called The Sausage Shop. 

The Bob Evans chain grew to an empire of more than 500 locations, located in 18 states, mostly in the midwest, southeast and mid-Atlantic states. Though the name Bob Evans is roundly associated with those iconic restaurants, or its restaurant-inspired packaged foods, like the nine varieties of mashed potatoes sold with the red farm logo, the man was, indeed, a farmer at heart.

Farmer, and friend of the earth

Upon retiring from the food chain in 1986, (via Ohio History Central) Bob Evans chose to involve himself in the promotion of sustainable, environmentally-friendly farming techniques, and, according to, encouraged young people to embrace the respect for the environment that he had always held. Along those lines, and in keeping with his wishes, Bob Evans established a partnership with the National Future Farmers of America Organization, and introduced Supervised Agricultural Experience grants for high school students. He was also actively involved in encouraging livestock farmers to utilize more efficient, earth-friendly grazing techniques.

The Bob Evans Farms company today states its focus on "constantly improving our sustainability and reducing our environmental impact at our manufacturing facilities, transportation center, and corporate campus" by instituting standards and practices that reduce the electrical power and natural gas used. The company also donates unused food to local harvest programs, recycles, and designates organic waste for composting.

Bob Evans was a farmer, a restaurateur, an environmentalist, and he was also a veteran. The restaurant proudly offers free meals for both vets and active duty military on Veterans Day, as a hats off to the company's visionary founder, and, of course, to all who have served. Evans' service to his country, and commitment to protecting the environment clearly make him an inspiring figure.