Grant Holdaway is a 91-year-old man who can’t give up his habit of farming. He finally sold his business last year after his store manager moved on to a different career. He says that ever since he was six years old he has had a passion for growing plants and farming. “You have got to love farming to do it,” says Holdaway. He added that despite working 12-hour days throughout his 85 years of farming, he has not become a rich man.
Watching Holdaway at work on his 10-acre plot is something to see. He walks with purpose around his farm somewhat bent over, but when he handles his fence-post driver (a 50-pound tool) he strikes it down with the strength and vigor of a much younger man, as you can see in the video. There is no indication that the task is too difficult for a man his age.
Holdaway’s farm is in Vineyard, Utah which rests on the shores of Utah Lake in rapidly growing Utah County. Nationally recognized as one of the best places in the U.S. to do business, homes and new developments are sprouting up all around Holdaway’s property. The most popular designs are for townhomes without space for yards. This was a detriment to Holdaway’s business of growing mostly vegetable starts and annuals. Holdaway has seen a massive transformation of this area in his 91-years.
Holdaway’s farm and greenhouse operations in Vineyard grew and flourished for 60 years, as he slowly built up his acreage until eventually, the county needed about half of his farm for a new school. After that the city needed a good portion of his land to widen Geneva Road. He doesn’t complain saying that people need to live somewhere.
The only aspects of modern society that seem to bother Holdaway is how the residents no longer seem interested in supporting their local farmers. He grew some acreage of corn and couldn’t sell it all and donated most of it to the food bank; nor could he sell the five acres of pumpkins he grew because Wal-Mart could offered a better price. Now Holdaway grows his 10 acres just for family and friends.
While his retail business is closed, Foldaway says, he has no plans to stop farming anytime soon. “My kids and I decided to avoid paying a huge tax bill. We would sell the land after I die, but I think I could probably keep going for another ten years,” he laughs as he picks up his heavy post pounder and moves to the next spot. He is using the posts to add support string for his Anasazi beans.
Holdaway’s sons are nearly at retirement age and very successful in their respective careers. One son retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Air Force and now trains pilots to fly the F-35 at Hill Air Force Base. His other son is a senior vice-president of the Marriott Corporation. “My son just built a home up in Midway for well over a million dollars. Can you see why he didn’t want to go into farming?” Holdaway laughs.
But Holdaway takes it all with no regrets and is obviously proud of his children. “If a man finds a job that he loves, he is a happy man.” Holdaway says he misses his wife who passed away two years ago, and says that has been the toughest part of getting old. Holdaway started running marathons at age 67 and ran his first ultra-marathon of 50 miles just two years ago.
Watch the video here: