Utah’s farmers markets are booming, the local food movement is stronger than ever, and local farmers-market farmers are making record profits ― so why are we building over the top of the best remaining farmland in Utah?
The simple answer is that the land, in the eyes of our political leaders and developers, has far more economic value as homes and apartments than as farms. But if the community values farms so much, and if local food is such a priority for so many residents, why aren’t our political leaders doing anything to help preserve legacy farms?
In this episode of the Utah Stories Podcast, we speak to three farmers about what it’s like to farm in one of the fastest-growing areas in the entire country. Two are in Utah County and one is in Weber County. Two of the farmers we speak with are first-generation farmers. They are eager to work hard, they love what they do, but they can see that land prices and the availability of water will make their jobs increasingly more challenging.
We also speak with Clark Burgess, owner of Burgess Orchards. He is a fourth-generation farmer who has one of the most beautiful orchards in Utah. Burgess Orchards is the last orchard in Northern Utah County, located in the town of Alpine.
Burgess was a part-time farmer for the past thirty years. Two years ago he retired from his position at the Utah Department of Agriculture. Since then, his farmstand and business have been booming, but he has been unable to get the help he needs to make his farm viable as a part-time retirement project. Burgess has decided that he will very likely cash out.
The big question is, will large-scale farming remain viable in Utah? Or will all of Utah’s legacy farms be sold out to developers, encouraged by political leaders?
The latter will likely be the case if nothing changes, but Utah has always been a very farm-centric state. The values of the original Mormon Pioneers who settled along the Wasatch Front always placed local food and farming as a much higher priority than cash rewards or quick money.
A Call To Action To Help Preserve Utah’s Remaining Legacy Farms
Utah Stories has been covering farms and farming in Utah for 12 years. We believe it’s time we produce a longer documentary film about this issue so that more residents and political leaders can become aware of the issue. If things continue as they have been, there will simply be no more legacy farms along the Wasatch Front. Utah will become increasingly dependent on California and Mexico for large-scale production of fruits and vegetables.
We ask our readers to contact their local political leaders asking for their support of legacy farms. We would also encourage readers to subscribe to Utah Stories Magazine to help support our efforts to produce this much-needed film. Utah Stories is $2 per month for the print magazine, and it can be ordered by visiting UtahStories.com.
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