May 16, 2014

Utah Farmland - The Story of Three Amazing Women

Ready. Set. Action! 

Green Fields. Red Barns, Black and White Cows. Tractors Driving into the Setting Sun. 

It is no secret that American media is enthralled with the landscapes and lifestyles of agriculture and food. In the last decade we have seen documentaries that have preached their agendas for rural agriculture, urban agriculture, corporate agriculture and anything in between. 

The newest addition to the club is Farmland, a pro-agricultural film that follows a diverse set of young agriculturists across the country. Viewers are introduced to trials and triumphs, family relations and farming communities. 

Interestingly enough, Farmland does not take a side on any particular issue – it rather invites the viewer to “come and see”: organic farming, urban/small scale farming, and large family farms. The lack of a political agenda, coupled with powerful story telling from both sides, is rather refreshing. 

And yet – these documentaries continue to showcase areas hours (if not days) from Utah. We’ve seen the problems and triumphs of Midwest livestock operations, debated the growing and harvesting practices of both East and West coast farms. 

Truthfully, we can get caught up in the tsunami of national agendas, that we can ignore the unique and powerful stories of agriculturists within Utah. 

While there is not sufficient space (or time) to capture them all – I’d like to invite you to "come and see" three amazing women I have discovered in the short four years I have worked with Utah’s Own. 

Meet Deborah (Deb) Myrin-Bertagnolli: a independent ranch girl from Altamont, Utah. As you can see in the picture below, her passion for beef and cattle even made it into her wedding photos. (My kind of girl!)

Photo courtesy of Deborah Myrin-Bertagnolli'
While studying in Orem, Deb discovered the emerging "local-food-fever" and decided to transform her family's ranch from a traditional cow-calf operation to a grass-fed beef supplier. 

Canyon Meadows Ranch, Grass Fed Natural Beef, is now available in many farmers markets across the state, as well as some retail stores like Whole Foods Market. As you browse the market this season, take some time to stop and visit with Deb.

Meet Sara Patterson:
a innovative agricultural entrepreneur from Cedar City, Utah. Her passion for natural and sustainable food production is unparalleled across the state.

Photo taken by Tamra Watson (March 2014)

Sara started Red Acre Farm about six years ago, when she was only 13 years old. At that time, she was disappointed in the type/quality of produce available at her school, as well as at the local market.

Instead of merely identifying the problem, Sara opted to become part of the solution. She attended workshops across the nation, built her own greenhouses, bought some livestock (chickens, goats and cattle) and started a CSA.

Red Acre Farm now services consumers and restaurants in Southern Utah. She also provides fresh greens to eager consumers at the Year Round Cedar City Farmers Market.

Meet Maryann Alston:  urban farmer, retail owner and a genius agricultural marketer from Salt Lake City, Utah. Maryann is one of Utah's greatest local and agriculture advocates.

Photo courtesy of Maryann Alston

Within her work as a director of many Wasatch Front Farmers Markets, Maryann identified the need for a retailer - one that would be willing to sell smaller volumes, accept the reality of seasonality and still have consumer interest. Like Sara, she also opted to become part of the solution. 

Maryann opened Urban Farm & Feed, with her husband Marty in 2012. The store, located in Murray, offers the consumer a Farmers Market Experience without the parking hassle or competitive crowd; it also offers the vendor (both farmer and food producer), one more option to sell their products in a competitive market. 

Maryann continues to show fierce loyalty to Utah farmers and food artisans. She has even started her own urban farm and now offers a CSA share.

To Deb, Sara and Maryann, and to the many other Utah farmers, ranchers and growers alike, I would like to say: Thank You. Your farmland stories - full of trial and triumph - are worth sharing, and Utah's Own feels honored to associate with you.

To the general reader - I would like to say: Look to Utah for the answers to your food solutions. Take some time this season to visit with a farmer or food producer and discover what amazing story might unfold. 

Happy Farming Season.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your stories and being part of the positive energy providing great food here in Utah!