The 1980s comedy hit Baby Boom portrayed the struggles that a former businesswoman, played by Diane Keaton, faced when trying to sell her new abundance of farm produce. Her business succeeds. Usually what we see in movies doesn’t happen in real life, but thankfully, sometimes it does.
Marty and Maryann Alston have created real-life success. Prior to planting their first crop, neither possessed any kind of experience or knowledge of farming. “I’ve always wanted to be a farmer,” Marty says, “and my wife has always wanted to have a store that sold all locally produced goods.”
After starting the farmer’s market at Wheeler Farm in 2011, two years later they realized their dream of opening a local store and called it Urban Farm and Seed, which is one of the few places in Utah to buy fresh, local produce in the winter. They now grow many of the crops themselves. “The store is mostly what we grow. The only thing we aren’t growing ourselves is the fruit,” Marty explains.
Like Diane Keaton’s character in the movie, they soon realized that they had an abundance of crops in the winter, with no practical way to sell them. So, they started preserving. Canned beets, radishes, pepper chutney, jellies, apple butter and sauces all comprise their popular product line called Farm Jars.
“This year we went into it knowing a little bit more, found additional ground and started a community supported agriculture [CSA] program.” A CSA program allows patrons to purchase produce ahead of season and have their items available on a weekly basis delivered right to their doorstep or waiting at one of many designated pick-ups.
They grow crops in Draper and West Valley. Unlike multi-generational farmers, they lease land from those cities. In addition to pesticide-free crops, they also raise 150 cage-free chickens.
Their farmers market domination has continued to expand as well. In 2012, they began the Gardner Village market and in 2013 assumed ownership of the Thanksgiving Point location.
Perhaps the youngest new farmers around, Marty insists that they’re loving every minute of what they do. “We hope to create a community with food. We are part of the whole food scene. We know the people, and they know us.”
Even with the odds against you, certainly life can work out just as you see in the movies.
Urban Farm and Seed is located 5823 South State St.