If you think farmers lead a relatively boring life, think again: Revealing the secrets of what farmers do in the off-season.
by Paige Wiren
The crops have been harvested. The tomatoes are almost frozen, and the farmers market is over. But what do these farmers do for the next four months? Utah Stories has dug up the revealing truth.
Jerry Jones is all mustache and smiles as his wife, Diane, announces that “Jerry just retired last Tuesday!” Diane can’t imagine not being productive in the winter months. “I get bored so easily. I love to keep busy. I knit my grandkids socks and I do a lot of sewing.” Cottage Greens Farms also participates in the Salt Lake County Urban Farming Program and so the Jonses are going to spend part of their time off getting their 5.5 leased acres ready for next year.
Soft-spoken Mr. Wilkerson of Wilkerson Farms is also a Provo school bus driver. When not growing spectacular ‘punkins’ as their stall sign reads, he and his wife like to patronize the arts. They enjoy music and cultural entertainment, but during the coldest months Mr. Wilkerson winks, “We just try to keep our feet warm.”
Growing apparently doesn’t generate enough adrenaline for fast-talking farmer Alex Hardy of Sadie’s Farms. When asked what he does for the winter, Alex enthusiastically responds as he continues to engage passing customers, “I’m a nationally recognized extreme ski skier! And I paint! I get thousands of dollars for my oil paintings! I also have a greenhouse so I grow all winter too!”
Joe and Kathy Jarvis collectively chuckle when asked what they do during the winter, like the answer is a good inside joke. “Well, we’re retired,” Kathy shares. “We were planning on living on our farm in Mink Creek, Idaho, but we went on a mission to England, and when we returned to Cedar City, Joe was made bishop, so we won’t be moving quite yet. We like to cross country ski and we hike. And we watch birds! We love to watch birds!”
“Dad’s really the driving force behind our operation,” notes Kent Pyne of Pyne Farms. “We take time off from growing, but mostly we call this ‘our other job.’“ Dad’s the primary source of work at the farm. He does the pruning and other off-season maintenance, but he loves to ski and travel during the winter.” Kent Pyne is a vocational job coach as his ‘real’ job and just helps out with the family farm when he can.
While Joe Zug extols the virtues of his heirloom tomatoes to a customer, his long-time friend, David Sheppler, answers for him. “What do we do in the winter?” David echoes. “Drink whiskey!” he kids, but then the two jovial men grow serious and go on to explain their more important mission, which is to educate people about the major shift in human consciousness that, they believe, will take place in 2012 according to the Mayan Calendar. Joe spends his non-growing months giving talks and promoting the idea of this future event.
Possibly the Jensen Farms peach-pusher will be testing out new slogans to replace this year’s well-loved, “I tell people this is not a sample, it’s a temptation,” but I couldn’t distract him from his peddling long enough to elicit an answer.
The tell-me-something-good component of the final day of the Downtown Alliance Farmers Market is that it will all happen again next year. Thank you farmers! Utah Stories looks forward to checking in with you next year. §