For over 15 years, Zach Roloff had been in the limelight via The Learning Channel’s “Little People Big World.” From being a teen struggling to find his place in the world, to having his own family, he never ceased to amaze and inspire viewers in overcoming challenges, and living a full life despite having dwarfism, a condition characterized by having a short stature; his family had been through so much, with his parents divorcing after 27 years of marriage, and his siblings living separate lives. As he failed to buy a portion of the Roloff farm, many wondered what became of Zach, and how he was able to provide for his wife and three kids.
Get to know Zach
Zachary Luke Roloff was born on 10 May 1990, with achondroplasia, which was a similar condition that his mother Amy had, while his father, Matthew James or Matt, had diastrophic dysplasia, and could only walk using crutches His twin, Jeremy James, and the rest of his siblings, Molly Jo and Jacob George, were of average size. His parents met in 1987 at one of the conventions of the non-profit organization called Little People of America (LPA). Despite being different in terms of personality, with Amy being realistic and Matt more of a dreamer, they were married that same year. All children were raised on a 34-acre farm in Helvetia, Oregon, that Matt bought in the ‘90s and had since expanded and transformed into 109-acres of what they called ‘agritainment extravaganza,’ which became a popular destination every pumpkin patch season, most especially since they starred in a reality television show.
“Little People Big World”
How did it start?
People with dwarfism struggle with the ordinary things that most take for granted, as the average height of an adult was only four feet tall. They had to be creative in adapting to a world not built to accommodate them, and were often bullied, stared at like some kind of a freak, and called names such as midget, which they found derogatory. When Matt and Amy were approached by the TLC network to do the TV show, they considered it a great way to disseminate information about dwarfism, and change people’s perception of them, so they agreed to open up their lives to the public. They were excited to do this, as nothing so comprehensive and in-depth about little people had been produced. It would help demystify dwarves, who had often been depicted in an unflattering way in movies, shows, or comedy acts in the past.
The Roloff family filmed for nearly seven months, as everyday occurrences in their lives were chronicled for the documentary entitled “Little People Big Dreams”, which aired in 2005 and which turned into the TV series, “Little People Big World”, following the positive response from both critics and viewers. Unlike other reality shows that were full of drama, which most fans believed was staged or scripted, theirs was heartwarming in its simplicity. It was produced by Gay Rosenthal Productions for TLC and premiered in 2006. Season one introduced the couple who had been married for 18 years, 15-year-old twins, 12-year-old Molly, and eight-year-old Jacob, and the viewers have been fascinated ever since with this extraordinary family.
Zach in the TV series
Growing up as the only child in the family with dwarfism was difficult, more so when one had a twin who was of average size; comparisons were made, and he could not help but feel frustrated about it. Shopping was a bummer, as Zach could only watch as Jeremy tried on clothes for teens while he had to go to the children’s section to find something that would fit him, or would only need a little adjustment so he could wear it. Playing soccer was another sore point, as he loved the sport, but keeping up with his teammates and opponents who were all bigger than him had become more challenging.
Dealing with bullies was something he had to learn as well because when he encountered one, he could only run to a store to avoid a fight and being hurt. Being shy around girls was normal for an adolescent boy; however, Jeremy already had a girlfriend while Zach had yet to approach one, even at an LPA convention where it was customary for little people who were single to mingle with the opposite sex and connect with them.
The seasons that followed gave the viewers the chance to get to know Zach better, and had seen the struggles he faced each day, the small victories, and the milestones reached over the years.
Zach and Tori’s love story
The Roloff’s farm was filled with happy childhood memories for Zach, because it was designed not just for raising pumpkins, but also as a massive playground with all the things that a kid could wish for, such as a treehouse, a pirate ship, and a castle. The campsite with a fire pit was a favorite spot, where the kids loved to gather at night to share stories, listen to music, look at the stars, and just hang out. As Zach found the girl he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, that place would hold a special meaning in his life as well.
Zach and Tori Patton met in 2010, as she worked picking squash at the farm at that time. They liked each other, but were too shy to do anything about it, or make the first move. A co-worker played matchmaker, and told Tori that Zach found her cute, but thought she would never go out with him. Zach revealed that he had never dated before, so it took him about three months to muster up the courage to give her a call. They watched a movie, and that date lasted for five hours. The two hit it off, and began spending their weekends together, playing soccer although she admitted to being there just to be with him. After four months of being friends, they officially started dating.
This transition didn’t come easily, as the difference between them, particularly their height made him hesitate to date her; he was 4ft2ins, about 1.3m, while she was 5’5”, about 1.60m. He knew that people would stare at them, and would likely think that he was her little brother. She had some reservations as well, because she was aware that they made a unique pairing, and that some people would have not-so-good things to say about them, but she later realized that other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter at all.
— TLC Network (@TLC) May 14, 2017
They shared their first kiss on the roof of The Twins’ Swamp Fort at the farm one night when the moon was out. Things between them progressed nicely, and by April 2014, Zach was ready to take their relationship to the next level. Tori was looking forward to relaxing at home after a long day at work, when she received a call from Zach. He said that Jeremy wanted to change the location of the campsite at the farm, so off they went to check it out. However, as they reached the spot, she was surprised to see a platform with perfectly arranged firewood in place. Zach then went to the platform, and on bended knee, asked her to marry him. ‘It was a moment that took my breath away. I was so perfectly happy and excited,’ she recalled. Zach was 23 while Tori was 22 at that time. She didn’t see Jacob and Jeremy at first, as they were in the bushes to capture that special moment in their lives.
Interestingly, his twin Jeremy had proposed to his girlfriend Audrey a month earlier. Their mom congratulated them via her Facebook post: ‘I couldn’t be more proud or more overjoyed w/my two sons Jeremy & Zachary… I’m excited to have Tori and Audrey a part of the family.’ Zach and Tori said their wedding vows on 25 July 2015 at her favorite spot at the family farm, and it was aired in August 2015 in season 14 of the series. For their honeymoon, they went to Disney World in Florida.
Building a family
In January 2017, Tori gave birth to their first child, Jackson Kyle, and then two years later, the couple welcomed their daughter Lilah Ray. In April 2022, their third child Josiah Luke was born, and this was much anticipated, after she suffered a miscarriage in 2021. She hadn’t recovered from that loss, and couldn’t have got through it without her faith in God, found comfort with the thought that her baby was with their savior, and that they would meet again someday. Her husband had been her rock through all this.
All three of their children had achondroplasia, the same genetic condition as their father. At first, the thought of having a baby with dwarfism scared Tori, as she said that no parent wanted kids who were different, not to mention the health complications that came with it. With a growing child, it was easy for Tori to forget that her son was different, but there were times when she was faced with the reality of it, and it would hit her harder than it did her son. While Zach could understand why she felt that way, for him, having dwarfism was not being different at all, as the child would just be like him. In fact, he said that having a dwarf baby would be awesome.
For a time before the birth of their third child, it seemed as if she would be having a non-dwarf baby, and Tori thought how fun it would be if that was the case. For Zach, however, he knew it would change the dynamics somewhat in the family. He said that having all dwarf siblings was like being in a pack, but having a sibling of average height would make one wish to be more like that sibling.
How does Zach make a living?
The couple had known each other for more than a decade, and had been married for seven of those years. As they celebrated their anniversary this 2022, Tori shared how she felt for her husband via Instagram: ‘I love you more this year than I did last, and fall more in love with you every single day @zroloff07.’ She continued, ‘You are the best husband to be and father to our kids and I couldn’t have asked for a better life partner.’ Everything seemed to be going great with his family, but fans of the show couldn’t help but be curious as to how Zach was able to support his wife and three kids financially all these years.
Tori, for her part, helped out at the farm. She used to work full-time as a kindergarten teacher, before quitting in 2017 so she could take care of her firstborn. She works as a professional photographer and ran her own shop, the Tori Roloff Photography.
As for Zach, after matriculating from high school, he reportedly graduated with an Associate’s Degree from Portland Community College. Having a thriving family farm, it wasn’t surprising that he would work there. When the farm was open to the public, such as during pumpkin season, Zach served as a tour guide for those who purchased the $300-worth ticket for the Golden Pass Private Tours. Many were interested in having him show them around and share stories of the place that was also featured in the hit series. His love for soccer remained true, as he coached a few of Oregon’s youth soccer teams, and played in a dwarf soccer league.
Zach’s main source of income was believed to be from being part of “Little People Big World.” As the public’s curiosity toward his family seemed to be never-ending, the reality TV series continued to air as well as it did since it was launched in 2006. He reportedly earned $7,000 per episode, and unlike his siblings who left the show for one reason or another, he along with his wife and children continued to film until season 23, which finished airing in July 2022; one could only imagine how much he had earned so far, but it didn’t mean that he was making much money from the start. In reality shows, the longer it was on air and the more successful it became meant that the budget for the production and the salary of its stars would increase as well. According to authoritative sources, Zach’s net worth as of September 2022 was over $700,000.
One of the things that concerned his fans was his continuing to film the hit series considering his family moved to Battle Ground, Washington in October 2021. They used to live near the family farm in Portland, Oregon in a five-bedroom house, which they purchased in 2018 for over $500,000. Although they had wonderful memories there, Tori said that they were excited for the new adventures that awaited them, in their new four-bedroom, three-bathroom home on a 2-acre lot, which cost them $944,000.
This decision might have been brought on when Zach failed to buy a portion of the farm from his father; it was reported that they couldn’t agree on the price. Zach said that his starting offer was based on how much his dad paid for his mom’s share. When his parents divorced in 2016, Amy sold part of the property to Matt in 2019 for over $600,000 and then about 32 acres of land for $975,000 in August 2020. Although she left the farm, she believed that one of her kids would own and live there. However, Matt was unwilling to lower his asking price, which was too high for Zach to afford. Zach even asked his dad, ‘What is it worth to have your grandkids on this property… to have the next generation grow up on the farm.’ His father would talk about the farm being his legacy to his kids, but after the negotiations fell through, no one really knew what was going through Matt’s mind. Of note, his twin brother’s offer for the farm was also rejected by Matt.
In May 2022, the family was understandably shocked when Matt put the over 5,000-square-foot farmhouse on a 16-acre lot on the market for $4 million; he said that he was getting older and wanted to step back from handling the responsibilities of a working farm. He also claimed that despite his hope that the entire property would stay in their family for future generations of the Roloffs, his sons didn’t want it. Matt even gave them a family discount, but they refused to work together on a joint sale. However, Zach said that this statement from their father wasn’t true, and that it was only Matt’s way of manipulating the narrative for his own gain.
With all that happened, that left father and son at odds with each other, and people wondered if Zach would continue to work on the farm. Amy feared that the annual tradition of the pumpkin season at the Roloff’s farm might be coming to an end. It all depended on what Matt’s plans would be on the farm, as he was the only one who had a say in the matter.
Since there was no news that the TV series had been canceled, fans would have to wait for the next season to see what the next chapter would be in the lives of the Roloffs. In the meantime, Zach and Tori were busy creating a happy home for their family.