You can find his peaches, sweet cherries, apricots, and other delectable fruits at the Downtown Farmers Market in Salt Lake City, Park City Farmers Market, and the Farm Yard Fresh Online Market with pickups from Farmington to Santaquin.
Smith, the youngest of five kids, displayed a solid work ethic early on. He tagged along with his father doing farm chores, a little red wagon filled to the brim with apricots trailing behind.
“My dad said, ‘Man, that kid’s ambitious,’” remarked Smith. “I didn’t know what the word meant, but it sounded important.”
Growing up on a working farm had its advantages, especially for kids with energy to burn. “I was a rambunctious kid. I was going, going, going. If I hadn’t had a farm where you had to work a certain amount of time each day, it would have been real easy to get into some mischief!” Smith mused. Besides keeping him out of trouble, growing up on a farm taught Smith how to work. “… you had to have a work ethic. You couldn’t watch cartoons all day.”
Now with a family of his own, Smith farms the same land with the same reverence for nature passed down by his father. “He was the greatest environmentalist that I’ve ever known,” he says. Utilizing natural predators to curb damage to his fruit, Smith takes great pride in his farming and stewardship of his land.
“You have a lot of respect for the land, and a lot of respect for the environment. You take advantage of what nature has given you,” he explains.
“Mating disruption is better than the standard way of farming. It’s better than organic because you just flat don’t spray. It’s a lure that has a pheromone and you use those lures for codling moths, the main predator in apples and pears. It makes the male and female — if they get together, they’re not fertile,” he summarizes. Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a way of using nature to protect crops. Natural predators keep pests away from the crops, and pollinators help the crops grow. Smith explained that eliminating the lacewings or the ladybugs would be detrimental because they eat the aphids and mites that destroy his crops.
“As far as I know, nobody has the population of native bees that we have. Native bees are better pollinators because they’re sporadic; they go from the pollinator tree back to the original tree.”
Smith works with Mother Nature, not against her. “There’s a lot going on with nature. You don’t want to take her out of the equation,” he reasons. He respects the wildlife on his farm. His family builds nesting boxes for hawks. Eagles fly through his sky, and a family of shy bobcats made his orchard their home. “I don’t know if you want to put this in the article, but I feed coyotes,” he confided. “I’ve never seen a coyote eat anything but fruit on the ground.”
While being a good steward of his land is important to Smith, he also has a keen sense of business. He says that farming, like all businesses, relies on happy, satisfied customers.
When asked what it means to him to be a farmer, he explained his business philosophy. “It’s kinda like a lot of businesses. If you do it right, you’ll eventually figure out your microclimate. When you’re doing sales, you have to find the market for what you’re doing. For doing a farm, it’s the same thing,” Smith explains. Rather than picking fruit a day or two earlier, ensuring it can travel across state lines, Smith picks his crop when it’s ripe, ensuring his customers the tastiest fruit.
“You have a trust, or you have a clientele you develop and they want to count on it every time,” explains Smith. “Once you’ve gained their trust, you have to steward, not only with the trees, but you have a stewardship with the customer.”
By providing tree-ripened fruit to his customers while preserving the land for future generations, Smith’s relationship to nature is commendable. If you’ve ever tasted fruit from Smith Orchards, you know Mother Nature is doing her part on the bargain. “Anytime you come in and change the ecosystem by cultivating something, you’re going to have a lesser or greater impact. I think everything we’ve done has been an upgrade,” Smith states proudly.