The entrance to Easy Bee Farm, just off Easy Street in Moab, is tucked between thick curtains of growth that make it hard to spot if you haven’t been there before.
“That’s part of the adventure,” laughs Rhonda Gotway-Clyde, who owns the farm.
Once found, the long gravel drive leads to what does feel a little like a magic kingdom, lush with flowers and vegetables, and accented with sculptures from a local artist and mosaics made by Rhonda herself.
Rhonda and a friend purchased a two-acre property on Easy Street, with a well and rights to irrigation water, in 2007. She had her trailer home moved to it and began improving the land by first building a garage and then a house. She planted “green manure” crops, which were tilled back into the ground to enrich the soil, and established hedges and planned out fields and landscaping.
By 2015, she had named the business Easy Bee Farm, and was serving 20 Community Supported Agriculture subscribers with weekly bundles of produce. The farm has expanded to three acres, and offers more than 50 CSA shares a season. The shares include a wide variety of items like greens, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchinis, cucumbers, and fruit. Subscriptions for eggs from the farm’s 17 chickens, or floral arrangements from flowers cultivated on the farm, are also available.
Some subscribers receive their shares weekly; others opt for an every-other-week schedule. Sixteen of the shares are available for “work trade.” Those subscribers help with harvesting and processing the produce for three-and-a-half hours a week in exchange for their shares.
“It’s my favorite day of the week, too, because you just get to be with a huge group of people who are so enthusiastic about what we’re doing,” says Abbey Meyer, crop manager for the farm.
“It’s fresh air, it’s cool in the morning, people are laughing, they’re out there telling stories,” she says of the work trade share days.
For the first time this year, Easy Bee is also able to offer shares through Utah’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — one of only two farms in the state to do so. Meyer applied for a grant to purchase a special SNAP transaction device and filled out “a lot” of paperwork to get the farm registered and able to take SNAP payments.
“I’m so jazzed about it,” Rhonda says, remembering how she and a staff member fist-bumped in triumph after the first successful SNAP transaction.
That’s one of many ways Easy Bee gives back to and partners with the community. The farm sells produce to local restaurants and a grocery store, participates in a summer outdoor market, and donates extra produce to churches and service organizations who can distribute it to their circles. Easy Bee has hosted fundraisers for local nonprofits, and also builds community through small on-site events for members of the farm’s “Supperclub.”
Easy Bee has also worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to incorporate native plants into the farm’s landscaping and create a “pollinator corridor.” The parcel has transformed since Rhonda bought it more than 10 years ago.
“I couldn’t even find a native on this blow-sand weed field,” she says, remembering how it looked then.
She has plans to further expand and possibly partner with other growers, and envisions creating a “hub” for farm activities with a larger kitchen space to make products like salsa and jam, and a small storefront facing Easy Street where CSA members can pick up their shares and shop.
Rhonda encourages people interested in farming to get started however they can, and not worry about acquiring land before diving in.
“You don’t have to own land,” she says. “Prove to yourself that you can improve a property and make it abundant and beautiful for a landowner, and go lease it!” she says.
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