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Dewey’s Dog Treats

 

The Downtown Farmers’ Market is all about keeping things as local as possible. The more commerce we can keep here in the community the better in our opinion. We love finding more and more ways to make the local option the most viable one. It only makes sense that this commitment would soon extend passed our own mouths to include our furbabies as well. This gap is merged by Steve and Connie Sutton, the pet-loving couple behind Dewey’s Dog Treats. Steve shows up most weeks with his signature straw hat, Connie sports her warm smile, and Duey the dog by their side. Every time I have a moment at their booth I get sucked in by how beautiful their displays of look: biscuits, doggy cupcakes, and dehydrated sweet potato curls meticulously arranged on a gigantic bone shaped table.  Intrigued and not really knowing anything about dog treats, we went back and forth trying to arrange a behind the scenes peek that didn’t cause to much of a disruption to their business and life. The perfect opportunity finally presented itself one Monday evening and I excitedly drove to the Sutton’s home to take a gander at what goes into making some of the prettiest baked good I’ve ever seen.

“You made it!” Connie said opening their front door wide to let me in. Steve smiled and greeted me as Duey ecstatically bounced

Little Duey dude

around in welcome. A second caramel colored dog lingered coyly in the corner. “That’s Shiloh. She is very shy.” Steve commented. I was quickly led to the kitchen where I participated in the mandatory visitor treat giving to the pups, and where the heart of the Dewey’s Dog operation resides. “WOW!” I said looking at the wall of plastic organizers labeled with different treat offerings. “This looks so professional!” I said walking over to the racks. “Yes, we’ve been at this for a while and have really streamlined our process,” Steve explained. “How long have you been doing this?” I pressed. “Well Connie has had a long-time interest in wholesome dog treats and made her first batch in 2008,” Steve started, “At that time we also looked into trying to find a side business we could do for ourselves. This was right after the recession. With a little bit of research, we found out that during the recession the only industry that wasn’t affected was the pet food industry. So, we started messing around.” Around 4 years later after testing and perfecting their recipes they kicked off their doggy baked good at the Tuachan market, joining the Ancestor Square Farmers’ Market the next season. “We’ve been at the Downtown Farmers’ market every season since then, except for the two years we had the store. There’s no place like Ancestor Square! You can quote me on that.” Steve laughed. “Oh I will!” I retorted.

left to right: Packaged treat, Steve and Connie, and dried ingredients.

“So where do you come up with your recipes?” I asked wondering if cooking for dogs was remotely similar to cooking for humans. “It started out with a lot of research,” Connie said thoughtfully, “I wanted to make something that was gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, and egg free. This led me to a recipe from the Great Depression called whacky cake. I used that as a jumping off point and started experimenting testing the treats out on Dewey and Shiloh. The original recipe has oil in it, but we don’t use that.” “Do you want to see our 3 main ingredients?” Steve smiled. He then went into the pantry and brought out two gigantic bags of Bob’s Red Mill rice flour and gluten free all-purpose baking flour and set them on the counter. From there he walked over and grabbed a container of organic peanut butter and set it in front. “These form the base of our treats. We also dehydrate all the other ingredients ourselves.” I followed Steve over to the industrial shelf where he pointed out the homemade jerky, dried apple slices, bananas, and sweet potato curls. “You guys make your own jerky?” I asked. “Yep! London broil.” Connie answered unphased. Looking at the containers on the shelf then to the cooling racks on the counter, the sheer amount of labor that went into every treat was beginning to dawn on me.  “So, Connie will take those ingredients and grind them down and make different flavors. She’ll also do that to get the coloring. We use Carob as a dog safe chocolate flavoring.” He pulled out a container of little square treats whose color immediately conjured up visions of gingerbread. “That’s so cool.” I whispered as I inspected the treats. Steve continued without missing a beat, “Connie also makes all the colored frosting herself. It’s a tapioca-based frosting and let’s say we need a red, she’ll dehydrate cranberries crush them down and there you go.”  I turned back to Connie who was standing quietly in the kitchen smiling. “This is a lot of work.” I blurted out idiotically. They both laughed.

fresh apple fritters, labels, training treats, and homemade bones.

“Yes it’s a lot… Connie does 98% of it and she does it all by hand. All the cutting, all the decorating, all of it.” Steve added. Connie smiled modestly. Steve then told me that he was developing a mechanical roller to at least help with getting consistent thicknesses and alleviating some of the manual labor. “So do you guys only do this to sell at the farmers market? Or do you sell other places?” I asked trying to mentally tally up the amount of Connie’s life spent in the kitchen. “No we have the online store and we sell at a couple places throughout the city. One of our main partners is the Best Friends Animal Society we’ve worked with them for over 4 years.” Steve then walked me through starting out with a dozen bags here and there, then growing to making 200 bags every 6 to 8 weeks. “We couldn’t have picked an industry with more competition. There are a lot dog treat brands out there, but we rely on the quality of our product. Which made it really exciting when we started outselling the competition,” Steve said. I nodded in agreement thinking of homegrown tomatoes versus store bought. Quality is always noticeable. Then it struck me: 200 bags by hand. I turned to Connie, “How long does an order like that take you to make?” She laughed probably at the visible distress on my face, “If I hit it hard around 2 weeks. They need to be as fresh as possible because the only preservative is citric acid but I do try to anticipate our customers as much as I can.” “When you say 2 weeks, is that all day for 2 weeks or is that pacing yourself?” I asked trying to organize my thoughts. “That’s 2 weeks all day, every day.” Connie chuckled half exasperated half amused, “But it’s my passion so it’s worth it. And I love how many rescues this has gotten us involved with.” Steve nodded in support, “It’s insane in here when we have orders but we love it.” We stood in the kitchen in a moment of imaginary overwhelm at the amount of work that was waiting just days away. “Hold on. You guys also make special occasion dog cakes, right? Where does that fit in?” I questioned. Connie explained that they seek out dog bakeries when on vacation because it’s a hobby and their business. On a trip to California, they stumbled on one that was printing pictures of dogs on cakes. “I freaked and asked the lady how she was doing the pictures. She walked me through it and I was sold.” Connie and Steve then recounted some of their customers and their crazy, fun stories. They’ve done birthday cakes, adoption cakes, and K-9 police dog retirement cakes. “People order the cake then we meet them locally for the pick-up. At some point, we get to meet the dog and learn more about them. It’s been so much fun,” Connie grinned.

Dewey’s dog cakes

Duey sauntered over to me and nudged my hand with his sweet little black face. “Hey Duey…” I said stroking his ears. “So his name is spelled d-u-e-y and the company is d-e-w-e-y right?” I clarified while gently running my fingers behind the pup’s half bent ears. “Yes because he’s not the original Dewey. This is the original Dewey,” Steve pointed to a wood burned portrait of a very different dog. “It’s actually a crazy story how we ended up with him.” Steve looked at Connie to fill in the gaps. Connie explained how they had rescued the original Dewey when he was 2 from a shelter in Vegas and had him for 13 years, “I couldn’t take that dog anywhere. People recognized him and would stop us, he also had this signature tail wag that was so unique. After he passed,” Connie sighed, “I swore no more dogs.” Two weeks later, a video from B.A.M. showed up in her timeline. “It caught my eye because this dog was doing the same thing with his tail that Dewey did. About a minute into the video they said his name was Duey and I knew it was a sign.” Connie called that afternoon. Duey had been admitted to the shelter with a crushed hip joint, whoever ended up taking him would have to commit to the surgery and the 12 weeks of rehab. Connie and Steve volunteered without blinking an eye. “We worked very closely with Woof out in Santa Clara and he’s made a full recovery.” Connie finished. “Well it looks like everyone’s made a full recovery!” I added. We laughed for a minute. “YES!” Steve added. We all looked at Duey and I shook my head at this dog’s sheer dumb luck that he stumbled broken into probably the most perfect home he could’ve dreamed of, eating gourmet treats all day. Those feelings were immediately followed by gratitude for people like Steve and Connie who take care of animals and give them good homes. Duey had no idea what I was thinking but was happy to be there.

Duey hanging out with Dewey

We continued chatting, I found out that Connie and Steve have a long history of adopting and fostering animals. Way back in the day before they were married, Connie lived in Huntington Beach, California and had become locally known as ‘The Dog Lady.’ “People would move and leave their animals, I would foster them and try and find them homes. At one point I had 12 dogs!” Connie exclaimed. Several stories later it became so crystal clear that the reason so much love is poured into these treats is because Connie and Steve love animals so much. We talked about the store and the absolute draining chaos of managing a physical location. “You want to see something cool?” Steve coaxed us into the front room where a huge carved dog head hung on the wall. “This was the old store sign made by Rorr Productions from Salt Lake. It’s based off a picture of Dewey.” I stood there examining the beautiful hand carving and detail. Connie then showed me a picture of Duey laying on the couch below the sign. How perfect, I thought, old and new hanging out together. Steve and Connie then gave me a gigantic stuffed dog that also used to be part of the store to take home to my son. As I said goodbye and loaded up, I again found myself so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to see behind the curtain. To meet these people and see the amount of love and work that gets poured into every product makes me proud to be a part of the St. George community.

You can purchase Dewey’s Dog Treats at the Downtown Farmers’ Market on Saturday or at Best Friends animal shelter. You can also place orders for treats on their website deweysdogtreats.com local pickup options are available. You can also find them on Facebook HERE.

Baked by Lodi

Being the Market Manager, I have spent the season honing my market routine and shopping strategies. I know if want salad greens I need to buy them first thing. I make sure to get different herbs for cooking. I try to support every farmer and rotate from week to week. I never buy the same thing two weeks in a row. There is one exception to this rule however, and that happens to be the irresistible Biscuit and Gravy Cupcake made by Baked by Lodi. It starts out with a biscuit base that is hollowed out and filled with a ball of cheesy hash brown goodness, then it’s drizzled with homemade gravy, sprinkled with spicy sausage, and tucked up in a neat, white box. Sheer breakfast perfection. Baked by Lodi also offers new and exciting specialty items each week like candied-bacon-beer bread, grilled pineapple hand pies, and delectable cupcakes. With the opportunity arising to interview bakers, I knew I had to pick the brains of Heidi Ellsworth and Logan Mathis the creative couple behind the brand. As I pulled up to their beautiful townhome, I looked up to see Logan’s head floating in midair out the cracked door, wearing his signature Cheshire grin. I started laughing. After working around him the entire summer, I can honestly tell you this is how he looks 100% of the time, except his body is usually visible. I walked up to the door and he welcomed me in and Heidi greeted me at the edge of the living room. “We’re REALLY excited if you can’t tell,” She said laughing. “Good. So am I!” I answered as I followed them down their hallway into the kitchen.

Cinnamon rolls, Heidi and Logan at the market, and carrot cake cupcakes

As we reached the end of the hallway, I was shocked to look up and see that were a dining room table would normally be, industrial stainless-steel racks of cooking supplies lined the wall. Along with two matching stainless-steel islands, a second fridge, and tons of

Industrial shelves full of goodies.

neatly organized cooking accoutrements. “Um…. WOW!” I said, slightly stunned. Remembering that Lodi is a fledging bakery, I asked, “Did you get all this set up just for the farmers’ market?” Heidi responded in a nervous giggle, “Uh no. I’ve always been into baking and so has Logan. So, we kind of have this set up like this more out of necessity.” An instant pang of jealousy rushed down my spine. “Ya, this isn’t even all our baking stuff. A lot of it we keep in sealed organizers so we have room to work. I think we have 4 big ones upstairs,” Logan added. I turned to him a little dumbfounded, “Seriously?” I asked as they both agreed. “How did you guys get into this? I mean, how did you guys decide that baking was going to be your thing?” Heidi sat down at the countertop and I followed her lead. “Well, I grew up baking with my grandma. She has always been the baker in the family and I loved it. She taught me a lot.”  Heidi went on to tell me about visiting her Uncle in San Diego and watching an episode of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. “I just remember seeing that show and thinking to myself that I could do that. I came back and signed up for a couple of Wilton cake decorating classes, tried it out, and loved it.” She moved out to San Diego, enrolled in a culinary arts program, and started working part time in a kitchen supply store (hence the massive collection of baking instruments). I sat there impressed. “No wonder your stuff is so good, you’re a professional!” I added. Heidi smiled, “Not quite, I didn’t finish the program, but I like to think I know what I’m doing.” I can vouch, Heidi knows what she’s doing. Logan leaned against the kitchen counter smiling. “And how do you fit into all of this? How did you get into baking?” I asked.

CUPCAKES

Logan shrugged, “I like sweet stuff.” I laughed. “No, I grew up with a lot of cooking in my family and I like baking. Actually, that’s how

A sign in the couple’s home.

I convinced Heidi to go on our first date, I told her I made the best pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.” Again I laughed, looking at Heidi, “No way! That’s adorable!” Heidi nodded, smiling, “Ya, and after all that talk he forgot to put the chocolate chips in.” “They were still amazing, but I did forget the chocolate chips,” Logan laughed. I shook my head at the sitcom cuteness of the whole thing. It snowballed from there. They started baking together and Heidi taught Logan more and more tricks of the trade until Logan and Heidi became Lodi. “Now Logan does most of the baking since I work full time, but when I get home we’re in here together.” Logan and Heidi then told me some of their crazy stories about making it all work. For example, their stove caught fire and hasn’t been the same since. So, now they have to set several timers throughout the baking process to remind them to turn the goodies in order to ensure an even bake. I felt overwhelmed for them since timing everything right in even a stir fry gives me a panic attack.

“How do you guys do all that and come up with recipes?” I asked. “We usually start with old family recipes, then we go from there and try to make it our own.” Heidi answered. “We just try tons of stuff.” Logan added, “You’d actually be surprised at how much stuff doesn’t work.” He chuckled. “YES!!! Sometimes it’s recipes we’ve made 100 times and they don’t turn out!” Heidi added. “So, we chuck them and start over.” This quickly turned into a recount of failed flavor combinations and the successful recipes that those led to. Sitting there listening to them go back and forth, it wasn’t hard to see the hard work that goes into Baked by Lodi. This is not just a hobby that let’s them wear matching t-shirts, it’s their passion and creative outlet. It’s no wonder the food is so good. “So…. What are your plans for Baked by Lodi? I mean what do you want to see happen?” I questioned, already clearly seeing the answer before me. “Have you ever seen Cake Boss?” Logan asked seriously. Again, I couldn’t help but laugh, “Yes, I’ve seen Cake Boss.” “That.” Logan smiled. This time we all laughed together, “Honestly though, we have had so much fun at the market doing this and making coffee that it seriously has us talking about getting the ball rolling on a joint bakery coffee shop.” Heidi added. I couldn’t help but emphatically encourage them for my own selfish daydream of biscuit and gravy cupcakes all day every day. Logan walked over to one of the fridges and whipped out a plate of fresh, white chocolate cupcakes and offered me one.

In the kitchen and some delicious breads cooling.

We sat and talked for a little while longer about making the leap as a small business to a brick and mortar location. They told me about possible menu options and décor ideas. I have to admit, I was very excited. This is one of the cornerstone beliefs of the Farmers’ Market, we want to be an affordable way for locals to bring their products to the masses. Without a place like that in our community, how would a small business get their foot in the door? The barriers to entry are too great and it would leave a lot of local dreams dead in the water. We are so proud to have Baked by Lodi as one of our anchor bakers at the market. You can support them almost every Saturday and place specialty orders throughout the week for delivery. Baked by Lodi also offers dessert catering and are now booking for the holidays. You can follow them on Instagram or contact them at (435)467-4410.

Laine Gabrielsen of Five Fingers Farm

When you get involved in community-oriented events, you start seeing how intertwined the community really is. Everyone knows somebody who knows somebody who makes something and so on. It’s not uncommon for artisans or farmers to recommend people to me saying things like, “You should call them, they do (insert something random and amazing here).” So, when one of our talented art vendors, Hannah Gabrielsen, asked if her sister could sell baked goods, I wasn’t surprised and was more than happy to oblige. However, what did catch me off guard was when Laine Gabrielsen, the younger sister, showed up with a full-blown farm set up slinging eggs, fresh chickens, onions, sourdough goodies, and a sign heralding tours of their farm. I walked up to the booth, “Wow, so you’re a farmer not just a baker! You do tours?” Laine smiled and nodded. Hannah chimed in, “You should see the farm sometime. It’s literally the happiest place on earth. She has goats.” I laughed but set a reminder in my phone to schedule a visit to New Harmony. Over two months later, I finally got a chance to visit Five Fingers Farm and it was worth every second of the 40-minute northbound journey on the I-15. I pulled up to the beautiful hand painted sign and unlatched the gate. As I drove up the gravel road, I could see Laine’s silhouette waiting for me at the end of the driveway next to what looked like a huge white boulder. When I got closer, I realized the boulder was a gigantic white dog. As I opened my car door, the great white beast met me face to face. “Hi!” Laine piped, “This is Murphy. Just push him aside.” Murphy, a Great Pyrenees-Newfoundland mix, did not move until he received his mandatory hello snuggles then quickly circled back to Laine’s side; a post he maintained for the duration of my visit.

The Farm

Laine, Murphy, and I began to stroll around the farm. “Have you lived here your whole life? How’d you end up in New Harmony?” I asked anxiously. “My mom grew up gardening and my parents (Todd and Liz Gabrielsen) moved all over California, then to Salt Lake and about 10 years ago my mom just really wanted to move back to a small town and work the land. They began looking and found this place.” Nine years ago, the property was in foreclosure, had only a house on it, and was filled with junk. “Every oil change the man ever made was sitting in buckets out back,” Laine said, pointing to a patch of land near where the present day greenhouses are. “On top of all the physical trash we had to remove, the soil showed every sign of erosion and overgrazing. Our main focus since then has been to rebuild the soil. If the soil is healthy, everything else is.” I would soon realize how serious she was. Everything at Five Fingers Farm is about soil.

We meandered down the green, open path that led down to the various pens of livestock. Hens, Guinea fowl, and roosters all paraded before us, moving in glistening feather ripples down the lawn and clucking in their various dialects. It was difficult not to start daydreaming about living there. “So, these guys just run around all the time?” I said, gesturing at the menagerie of birds in front of me. “Yep!” Laine answered, “All of our birds are free range. They play a huge part in rebuilding the soil,” She went into a deep breakdown of the biochemical makeup of chicken poop and how it’s good for immediate pasture use but needs to be broken down for garden use. “We also look at them as the clean-up crew. They will come in and get rid of pests and prevent a lot of diseases from spreading… Also, they’re just happier and healthier running around.” Laine smiled. I asked if they were organic. “For us organic isn’t the end all be all. I mean, there are chemicals we won’t spray, but for me to feed them organic I’d have to have it shipped in across the country and by that time the carbon footprint alone isn’t worth it. It’s our belief that local is better.” I wanted to bow to her but thought that would make it weird, yes local is better, I echoed in my mind. “The chickens live the way they were meant to live, we feed them what they’re supposed to eat, no soy, from a local supplier that we like. I think that’s good enough.” Behind me was a stainless-steel table that Laine pointed at matter-of-factly, “This is where we do the slaughtering, we’re all open air which keeps it super clean.” She explained that they had learned how to process their own birds from a New Harmony old timer and were committed to growing the operation but still doing it right. I was a little stunned. No smell, no stains, no waste. Just a calm red barn and a beautiful morning.

I stood and stared at the beautiful red barn for a minute, wondering if it was for events or for actual use. Almost as if she read my mind, Laine pointed at the barn telling me about how it was, in fact, used for animals in the winter, and that it too played a part in rebuilding the soil. “We use the manure as fertilizer, but instead of mucking out the stalls and breaking our backs every day, we do what’s called deep bedding.” First, they put out straw and when the animals have done their business to the point of needing new straw, they scatter grain across it, then start over. “When it needs to be turned, we let the pigs in there and they’ll turn it looking for the grain.” Almost as if on cue, the pigs in front of us started squealing for our attention. “Ah, the pigs!” Laine said, as we got a little closer to the raucous pair, “You see how their snout curls up right there? It makes a perfect little shovel.  We also move them around to different areas of the farm and they turn the soil for us.” The back portion of their pen had been expertly tilled in huge rows. “I mean we could buy a tiller and do it ourselves but this way we get bacon out of it,” Laine shrugged. I couldn’t help but giggle, “Bacon is good.” The two pigs, sourced from Ivins, bounced along the fence squeaking their side of the story. It was all I could do to resist reaching in the pen and ruffling them like puppies. “Be careful they bite,” Laine stated. I kept my hands to myself.

The pigs. chickens running a muck, and the glorious Bucket the Buck.

As we turned, we were met with the greenhouses and Bucket, their buck goat. “Almost all our animals are named after Shakespeare characters,” chimed Laine, as she made the introduction. I asked Bucket to smile for me and snapped a quick picture. As Bucket and I sat there ogling each other, Laine walked me through the history of how they went from dairy cows to goats. She explained that they had better luck processing it, but there were some failed experiments. I must admit, at this point we were less than half way done with our farm tour and I was flabbergasted by Laine’s knowledge and commitment to the farm. I felt a little jealous of the fact that she’s found her calling so young but simultaneously felt super grateful to her for sharing her passion. We left Bucket and headed to the two greenhouses behind him. I asked if they were store bought or custom. “These are custom built by a friend of ours. We told him that we wanted greenhouses and he said that he had figured out a design that could withstand the winds that come through here. So, we put them in and they’ve been perfect!” She cracked the door and my jaw dropped as we were greeted by a tomato forest. “Holy crap!” I exclaimed as I stepped in. “Ya, they love it in here!” Laine smiled. I learned that most diseases that affect tomatoes are wind born so the greenhouse keeps them protected. It also plays a huge part in keeping them safe from the farm’s grasshopper invasion, which had wiped out several plots already.  We moved to the next greenhouse. “This is our Fall greenhouse, so we’ve just planted it.” There were different crops of arugula, spinach, beets, and cabbage. “Do you guys live off of what you grow on the farm?” I asked. “Probably about 40- 50% of what we eat comes from the farm, but I would say 75% of what we eat is local. We like to support our other local farms too.”

the view of the Five Fingers

We stepped out of the greenhouse into the mid-morning sun, where we were rejoined by Murphy, and began to walk around the pasture. As I followed Laine, she started pointing out the water drainage patterns on the property. She showed me the berms they had built to keep the water from flowing straight off the property. I asked them if they had water rights, acting like I had a clue what I was talking about. “Yes we do, but wells are notorious for going dry around here. That’s why it’s so important to have good soil. If the soil is good, it will hold the water. If it’s not, the water just runs off.” As I trailed behind her she would point to little things around us, saying phrases like, “Do you see that? That’s a good sign!” and “Look! That wasn’t like that a year ago.” When we turned to start heading up to the orchard, I looked up, “WOW.” The Five Fingers of Kolob were glistening in the sun. “Ya, it’s beautiful.” Laine sighed. “Is that where the name comes from?” I asked. “It’s one of the reasons,” Laine answered, “There are also five of us in the family and my mom wanted us to know that there is no shame in working the land with your hands.” Beautiful, I thought. She unhinged the gate in front of us, and Laine, Murphy, and I walked through into the orchard filled with grapes, peaches, and apples. The grasshoppers had left their mark here too. The apple trees were full of fruit but missing all their leaves. I pointed to a brand-new structure being built and asked if they were putting in a tiny home. “No, my brother is building a shed, but we are totally inspired and want to build a tiny house next,” Laine laughed.

Here, we crossed the lilac hedgerow into the huge garden, which quickly became my favorite spot on the property. Beautiful, lush, green foliage cascaded out of every raised bed. Tall, healthy rows of plants trailed down one side. Laine pointed out that in this area they practice no till gardening. The reason why is to preserve the fungi systems that run through the soil, making it easier for the plants to get the nutrients they need. We walked through the rows of gigantic squash and other plants to the bench swing, “Ah, this is my favorite spot!” Laine exclaimed, “Every farm needs a spot where you can sit down and look out and enjoy your hard work.” She sat down and began to swing, smiling completely content. We traded spots and I realized that Laine’s sister really was telling the truth: Five Fingers Farm really is the happiest place on earth. It would make everything worth it to be able to sit down every evening to that view.  As we started down the rows, Laine started sharing her favorite fermenting recipes for beans and cucumbers. We came upon the cinderblock root cellar her dad put in and Laine mapped out what she hoped would be a future berry bramble.  As we approached the house, Liz was out and about with a basket of fresh vegetables. She was wonderful and excited and insisted I take a loaf of bread and some tomatoes. Two things I never turned down.

clockwise from the left” Laine in the Fall greenhouse, tomato forrest, apple trees with no leaves, and some of the garden

I began my long drive home with my car filled with the scent of fresh bread and admiration for Laine and her family. I ran through all the projects they had going and all the work the 20-acre farm takes and how it truly is a family effort and a life’s work. I left the farm feeling like I had a better understanding of life in general and couldn’t wait for Saturday to buy one of Laine’s chickens. Laine sells most Saturdays at the Downtown Farmer’s Market at Ancestor Square and you can follow her on Instagram HERE, be sure to reach out and schedule your own tour!

Brian and Janet Linder

The farmers’ market prides itself on being local and seasonal. It’s so interesting to watch the back and forth between these two dynamics because it not only applies to the food but to the vendors. There are people who come later in the season because that’s when their crops start going off, or they stop coming, or they start out as an every-other-week participate until things get going. The farmers let us know. One week they’ll walk up and say they’re done and they’ll see us next year. It is sometimes bittersweet but mostly a pleasant reminder of the need to savor the season. Brian and Janet Linder are a great example. They begin the season coming every other week, starting with eggs, then house plants, and gradually produce. Pretty soon Janet will show every week with boxes full of squash the size of your arm. So, when I started seeing her and her wonderful produce more often, I knew a trek to Beryl was in order. She brought me a hand drawn map and emphasized its importance. I nodded and put it in my notebook thinking that Google Maps would probably be more useful. But it turns out that driving around Beryl, Utah is like stepping into a time machine. For example, there is still only one house per block, an open skyline, and everything is referred to by distance from the railroad tracks. I tried my best to navigate my way to the Linder’s but it turns out Google Maps can’t tell the difference between actual roads and private property access roads. I dug around for the map but it was too late, thanks to that wide-open skyline, Janet saw my distress a mile away and drove out to meet me with a smile. “You were doing so good, then you weren’t!” She laughed through her open window. I tried to blame Google but she just waved me off and turned her car around and piloted me to the Linder’s 20-acre plot.

 

Brian Linder in the front garden.

As I pulled in I could see Brian’s silhouette out watering the green stretch of garden. A stark contrast when placed in front of the dry, gnarly, natural landscape of sagebrush and cactus. Janet said she had blueberry muffins baking for us and that she was glad I was running a little late because it gave them time to cool. I smiled at the storybook scene of eating blueberry muffins on a farm in the early morning sun. Together we walked over to Brian. As we got closer, the indiscernible green patches he was tending began to come into focus. Huge squash leaves the size of my head stretched out in every direction, littered with pops of yellow flowers and hidden zucchini. A scare crow flapped in the wind beside me. We all stood there smiling at the plants for a minute. “Wow, so this is the garden! It’s huge!” I tried to finagle a picture while Brian walked me through the initial layout and how it has expanded over the years. He pointed out many more crops on the back of the property. It was a lot to take in, so it was decided that while Brian finished watering before the heat set in, Janet would show me around.

 

Janet and I began walking around the property to the other lush, green patches. “So… how did you end up out here in Beryl? Did

The view from the back of the property.

you grow up in St. George?” I asked. “No, we are both from California. We moved out here in 2012.” Janet answered. Without skipping a beat, Janet started filling in the gaps. In California, she had worked her way up to an awesome job with the school district. “I worked all the time. It was a lot of stress and that’s not good for you.” Janet said. Soon she was diagnosed with Lymphatic cancer. She said, “There was a point during chemo where I just looked at Brian and said I’m done. I want peace. I want to live somewhere quiet where you grow me food, and we can live off the land. This isn’t worth it. So, we moved here and that’s what we do. We try to only eat what we grow.” I stopped and shook my head for a second, as if to make sure I heard that correctly, “Wait… You ONLY eat what you grow?” She nodded. “Ya, mostly. We have gotten to the point where we are mostly vegan now. I don’t really even eat eggs that much anymore.” I looked at her hard for a minute waiting for the ‘just joking’ but it never came. I’ve always dreamed of living that way but either through convenience or lack of self-discipline, I’ve never got there. Janet continued, “I buy some gluten-free dairy-free bread, some nuts, and Veganaise but that’s about it.” So many more questions began racing in my head, but all I could think of was, “What do you eat?” Janet laughed. I’m sure, living in Utah, she gets asked this question a lot.

Janet then humored me by walking through a basic menu: sautéed onions and potatoes for breakfast, a veggie sandwich for lunch, then soups or salads for dinner. We turned the corner to another garden with manicured rows covered by wood chips. “This is the potato field. Brian will just dig some up when we need them.” She said it like it was so simple. “The farmers’ market is a hobby. We only sell our excess. We mainly do this to feed ourselves.” A little stunned, I was struggling to find my next question. It was simple. All of it. So why was I struggling so hard with the basic concept? After all, this is how it had always been. It’s only the last few generations that stopped living off the land. The only thing I could think of to ask was, “Well are you feeling better?” Janet gave me a wide smile, “Definitely.” She started walking to the next plot and telling me that since being there she’s been gradually weaning herself off her medications. We approached the next plot which had a tomato pit and the frames of old trampolines cut in half to form the frame of a green house. Janet told me about Brian experimenting with different frames, hoping to find one that would help the plastic casing resist the harsh Beryl winds, “We haven’t succeeded yet. Every year it gets ripped to shreds. Then we’ll go back to Google, look up more stuff, and try again.” She chuckled. Janet quickly pointed to another little plot and we began to head that way.
“Sorry about the weeds, that’s how you can tell we’re organic.” Janet started explaining all the different crops they had rotated through over the years. “A customer at the market will ask for something I’ve never heard of, so we’ll try and grow it.” She said while foraging through a viney plant. She quickly held out a handful of sweet peas. “Here try these. They’re Japanese and super sweet.” I bit into them and sweet, delicious, crispness exploded in my mouth. I awaited the bitter aftertaste, but it never came. “These are AMAZING!” Janet agreed as she popped off dandelion flower heads and ate them. She then pointed out her strawberry patch and the young fruit trees they had planted. I asked how their season had been. “Hot.” Janet replied, I laughed a little knowing I had set myself up for that. I wondered if they had water issues like so many other farmers I knew. “We have a well so water isn’t a problem for us. The only thing is if we have a bad storm and lose power, we can’t get the water out of the ground. We are actually working on trying to get solar panels just to power the well so we don’t have to worry about it.” I tried to imagine being stuck in a power outage with no electricity and no water and sufficiently freaked myself out. I marveled at how matter of fact Janet seemed about the no-electricity-no-water situation.

left to right: the chicken coop, a group of golden comets, and the potato patch.

We circled back toward the house, and walked the route passed the chicken coop. The coop and it’s caged off areas are the mark of the previous owner who was a Beagle breeder. “I wanted to tear it down, not really thinking too much about it, but Brian’s brother pointed out it would be great for chickens, and it’s actually worked out perfectly.” She then went into a deep explanation of the hierarchy of their chickens. How these roosters attack these ones, how these younger ones liked certain areas but get picked on by the older ladies, and how her little army of Golden Comets roam free in certain sections of the yard. I stood totally enthralled by the flock and their movements. Looking up from here, I see the greenhouse built off of the back of the garage. It is expertly assembled from a hodge-podge of salvaged windows. “Brian collected all of these when he had his hauling business. He’s the kind of guy that you could give htwo rocks and he could figure out how to make a living off them!” Janet joked. I nodded silently in agreement as we approached and looked inside. Brian had finished watering at this point and joined us. He started filling me in. The greenhouse sunflower was a volunteer and no one was really sure how it got there, the broccoli plant actually produced broccoli that year, and the tomatoes preferred it in there. I smiled in agreement.

The inside and outside of the green house

As the three of us stood there looking out on the property Janet suggested coffee and muffins inside. We soon found ourselves around their wooden table enjoying the deliciousness of Janet’s baking. Brian gave me the inside scoop about other facts about the garden. How the woodchips that lined most of the beds were sitting in a pile by a city building for months, finally Brian went in and asked if he could have them if he hauled them away. He hoped it would help with the ground rot that potatoes are susceptible to. A very similar story accounted for the huge pile of wood logs that would eventually be used to provide heat throughout the winter. The more he went on, the more I realized the whole property is a testament to resourcefulness and using what you have. It’s like Thoreau’s Walden, but out here there is no pond. Almost everything is recycled, second hand, or salvaged; and everything serves a purpose. I was a long way from the hyper consumerism and wastefulness of modern life. I began to mentally edit my Amazon shopping cart. Realizing I had been there for almost 2 hours, which was way over my promised 45 min, I hurriedly tried to excuse myself, but there is no rushing in Beryl. We talked a little longer and I was sent on my way with a bag of yellow squash and zucchini. I drove back thinking of everything and vowed to live a little slower, eat a little greener, and to simplify. Come and support Janet and Brian every Saturday at the Farmers Market 9 am -noon at Ancestor Square.

The sunflower patch they harvest for seeds

Pearce Family Farms

Darren Pearce

There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into putting on the Farmers’ Market each year. We start cracking away at it in February; sending out emails, marketing, securing permits, and following up with and finding new vendors. From that moment on, all day every day, the phone rings off the hook with people pitching their ideas and products. We read, reread, and re-reread applications to make sure we have a diverse assortment of vendors with new and exciting products. Then we follow up, confirm and begin to set our line-up. That’s how we start the Farmers’ Market. Last March, it seemed every other day I had someone call and sign up to sell micro-greens. I’d write down their names but when I’d go to finalize their commitment they’d disappear off the face of the earth. So, by the time Darren Pearce from Pearce Family Farms called and said he was interested in coming on for the whole season with micro-greens, I was reminded of the poetry of Great White and felt once bitten twice shy. It took less than 10 minutes for me to realize that Darren was the real deal, a concept cemented after seeing his booth at the Farmers’ Market. From the educational handouts, the numerous varieties of micro-greens, to the packaging, it’s clear that Pearce Family Farms is here to stay. Which is one of the main reasons I was so excited to have the opportunity to check out their operation this week.

I pulled up to Darren and Katie Pearce’s beautiful home, rang the doorbell, and was greeted by Darren and a wave of activity. Little kids were running around, Katie had just finished canning peaches, and giggling could be heard everywhere. It seemed like the perfect place to sit down and talk about seriously good food. We planted ourselves in the living room and began at the beginning. Darren started telling me about growing up in a family of avid gardeners. Both grandpas had huge gardens, “My one grandpa was more experimental. He would let things grow wherever, but my Grandpa Pearce… He was methodical.” Darren talked about helping Grandpa Pearce every season and learning great lessons about keeping a perfect garden. That’s when a deep love for growing food started. “I’ve always told Katie that if I could find a way to grow food and make a living at it that I would. So, last year I really started looking into it and here we are.” I asked him how he made the decision to grow micro-greens. Darren replied, “Due diligence.” It started by following homesteaders on YouTube and Instagram, then he fell down a gardening rabbit hole. Darren walked me through his research process of calling restaurants, estimating cost and profit ratios, and analyzing multiple spreadsheets before he committed. I sat there thinking, Grandpa Pearce would be proud.

Left to right: Lovely Radish seedlings, Darren and some of the shelves, and baby Basil.

At this point in the conversation, I revealed how little I knew about micro-greens by asking Darren what the difference was between sprouts and micro-greens. He patiently explained to me that sprouting is done in a cool dark place and is basically the root of the plant. Micro-greens are grown in a soil substrate and is the actual seedling. This distinction is why micro-greens are so healthy for you, they contain all the nutrients from the seed. Darren went on to tell me that he had been eating a micro-green salad every day for a month and the difference in his energy levels and overall health has been dramatic. “The micro-green can be up to 40 times more nutrients than the grown version of the plant.” Darren again started explaining the basic growing process. He then quickly popped out of his seat saying it would be easier to just show me, and I followed him to the grow room. As soon as I stepped over the threshold into the room, I was hit with the overwhelming scent of fresh air as two walls full of green beauties grew silently before me. “WOW! This is awesome.” Katie peeked her head in smiling. “Do you love this?” I asked her, pointing to the plants. She smiled, “Yes I do. I’ll often come stand in here and ask him questions about stuff because I’m just in awe of what he’s doing.” I nodded in agreement. Awe is exactly what I felt.

Darren quickly began talking me through his growing schedule. He mixes the growing substrate himself out of coco core and perlite, then each tray is sprinkled with seeds that are so tiny that you can’t believe they grow into anything. Darren then waters them and stacks them to weight the seeds. This simulates the pressure of being buried in dirt. “During this time, I watch them really close because it’s so easy for them to dry out. Once they hit a certain point, I unstack them and then they just grow like normal seedlings.” The trays will sit under the energy conserving LED lights Darren has rigged to every shelf. He described the different lengths of grow cycles and how the main crops are ready in about a week. I asked him if he had any kind of pests or mold issues. Darren shook his head, “Because they grow for such a short period they never have time to develop any bug problems. Everything I do is organic, and I’ve never had mold.” He also explained that after one use, the soil gets composted for use in their home garden. Having fresh soil, each cycle ensures optimal nutrition and eliminates the possibility of contamination. Darren then started pointing out the different stages between the crops. He plants two cycles a week: one for his restaurant orders and one for the farmers’ market.

seedlings stretching towards the light and tiny seeds.

Darren started praising each micro-green and their appeal to the chefs: Arugula added a nice spice, Radish was a beautiful pop of purple, the Wellness Mix made a well-rounded salad. I couldn’t help but agree mesmerized by the undulating sea of purple at eye level. I made a mental note to buy Radish this Saturday. As we gently poked some sunflower seed shells off the top of the seedlings, I asked what the next step for Pearce Family Farms was. Darren replied that they were already planning to move the grow room to a bigger space sometime in the next month. Then he started explaining how he wanted to incorporate a home delivery option through nutritionists and health conscious programs. He also talked about expanding his specialty crops for chefs, such as micro Basil and harder to source items. I stood there looking around, feeling a little overwhelmed by the logistics of the operation: the planting schedule, frequent watering, hand trimming the harvest, packaging, and delivering. It would be so easy to miss one step and have it all come to a screeching halt, but then I remembered that being methodical and precise is in Darren’s blood and he’s got everything dialed in perfectly.

Darren Pearce and the micro-greens

Feeling my end-of-the-interview-smile coming on, I thanked Darren and Katie for letting me invade their space for the morning and hurried out the door. Each step I took on my way to my car was accented with a, “Wow.” I know, I know, I work for the Farmers’ Market, I shouldn’t be surprised by people growing things anymore, but there is something so raw and connecting when you watch someone make their passion their life. It’s inspiring when you see someone living in alignment with what they truly want to do. Pearce Family Farms is out there making it happen every day and we are beyond excited to have them as a cornerstone vendor of the market. Pearce Family Farms will be at the Downtown Farmers’ Market every Saturday 9 am- 12. You can follow them on Facebook here or touch base for orders at darren@pearcefamilyfarms.com.

Donny Terpstra

The first time I saw Donny Terpstra unloading his booth at the Farmers’ Market I was in shock, then immediately became suspicious. I thought, there is no way he is growing all of this. The mounds and mounds of fresh, organic, leafy greens and vegetables make Donny’s table look like a set-up from Whole Foods. It’s impressive and delicious. Because of this completely unfounded suspicion, I was relieved by Donny’s cool acceptance to be interviewed. Finally, I was going to get to the bottom of things. The hour drive to Enterprise on Hwy 18 is a slow climb in elevation where the scenery ranges from dramatic red sand to wild green mountain-scapes. After making a few twists and turns through the town I saw a Shoal Creek Berries sign popping out of a wall of trees. I quickly turned right and got about 5 ft into the driveway when I stopped and audibly gasped, “Holy crap”. Shoal Creek Farm is the homestead I’ve dreamed of since a child. Overwhelming amounts of greenery and color protruded from every patch of earth. Beautifully manicured rows of berry bushes wrapped around the house and the flower beds looked like they belonged in a Martha Stewart catalog.

Donny greeted me as I hopped out of my car. “Wow this is beautiful! Is this your place?” I blurted out, ready to dump a thousand questions that were forming in my mind. “Oh no. It’s Darrell’s. Let me get him.” Donny sent his son, who works with him, to go find Darrell Humphrey. Minutes later, he pulled up on a 4-wheeler. I immediately understood why Shoal Creek Berries was the stuff of children’s books. Darrell is the quintessential grandpa figure. A tall, sweet faced, elderly man that welcomed me profusely and launched into stories of the good old days. He told me how the 5-acre farm had been organic since before organic was even a thing. For 10 years he and his wife Karen have worked their land naturally for no other reason than because it was the right thing to do. Darrell apologized for how the farm looked, explaining that this season has been particularly hard because of the heat and the terrifyingly low amount of water. I chortled, which received confused looks. I was struggling to make sense of the statement that the green paradise in front of me was not having a good year. It was here Donny pointed out random, empty garden plots and naming the crops they had lost due to drought. Darrell again reiterated my welcome and left with a statement of full confidence in Donny’s ability to show me around. “He’s the brain child behind the greens anyway,” Darrell stated as he started his 4-wheeler and rode away smiling and waving.

Left to right: Blackberry cuttings, Donny with the seedlings, and ‘the pit’

“Let’s start in the pit.” Donny pointed to the sunken structure to the left of me and I trailed behind him like an excited golden retriever. As I walked down the steps, Donny walked me through the construction of the pit, which made zero sense until I got to the bottom step and looked inside. I started freaking out. The pit is 5 ft deep and the retaining wall around the perimeter, keeping it all from caving in, is made out of old tires. In front of the tires are huge, black barrels of water. The water is heated by solar energy, which keeps the pit warm enough to grow year around. Having the structure half buried makes use of the thermal energy from the Earth, keeping it cool in Summer and warm in Winter. I’d like to say I was a professional and kept it together, but that would be a lie. I was pointing at everything and repeating, “Dude, this is AWESOME.” Donny calmly nodded and agreed, saying it turned out pretty cool. He wasted no time as he guided me through the diverse variety of seedlings and greenery contained in the pit. He pointed to a thick, well used, binder on the table. “This is my planting journal. I’ve had it for the past 5 years. I keep track of everything I ever plant, when they get transplanted, what area they’re in, and how well they do.” My face turned red with embarrassment over the fact that I can’t even keep my mail sorted. I followed him down the rows in awe.

 

I asked Donny why he decided to start an Organic Greens business. “Well I got sick.” Donny shrugged. Looking at me and seeing this answer wasn’t going to stop me from prying, he elaborated. Donny grew up around farming but found his way into concrete work and construction. In his early 30’s he had an accident and when he wasn’t healing right, his normal life got turned upside down. Donny described years of tests, the frustration of not knowing, and mostly the crippling pain. “I was finally diagnosed with a degenerative disease. I moved my family back here to be near my parents while we figured it out. Darrell first hired me as a berry picker but over the years he’s let me take on more and more. Because he knows if I sit still, the disease will put me in a wheel chair.” We stood there quiet for a moment. I was lost in the enormity of the situation, the kindness of strangers, and the literal life that was busting forth out of the ground from such a derailing experience. While I was having an existential crisis, Donny was listing other things to show me, “Let’s go to the greenhouses.” Donny turned on his heals and headed up out of the pit.

clockwise left to right: inside the greenhouses, squash leaves, back lot, and rows of blackberries.

Donny walked me through the next two greenhouses with the same matter-of-fact attitude, while I struggled to keep up. He described building the greenhouses out of electrical conduit and recycled cedar posts. “The first one was a little confusing, but we figured it out. It’s easy once you get it, so you can tell people to come out here and I’ll show them how to do it.” The first greenhouse had rows of chard and huge bunches of kale. Donny explained that they had already cycled through a spinach crop and when they planted a second batch, all the crops would rotate their placement. It was stunning. In the second greenhouse, they were using a method called companion planting. There were long, green rows of tomato plants and each plant was encircled with Romaine, Basil, and Cilantro. Donny mentioned that he sells the Basil to local restaurants and would soon be able to produce 30 lbs a week. To put that in perspective, Basil leaves are as light as a feather. That’s a whole lot of Basil.

 

As we circled the property, every few steps there was another project that solidified Donny’s farming superhero status. We came upon the compost heap. He led me through the huge vermiculture compost tea operation they had. “If I have a plant that is struggling, a few sprays of this on the leaves and boom! It’s fixed.” He described each layer inside the compost bin and how it filters the compost into the most nutrient-dense plant fertilizer known to man. Then he uncovered the top and dug down to show me the worms and their rich, dark castings. Even I knew I was looking at black gold. We rounded the last corner bringing me back to my car. I was about to leave when Donny said, “Want to see the wood fire ovens.” My eyebrows lifted and my head started involuntarily nodding.
I shut my car door, and again hurried to keep up with Donny and his unstoppable go-go pace. A short distance away, we came upon 3 huge, free-standing wood fire ovens. They were built with broken bits of concrete, insulating layers of sand, and layers of handmade adobe. He then started describing all of his favorite recipes and I stood in complete disbelief at the amount of things this guy gets done. I asked if he gets his ideas off of Pinterest. Donny looked at me confused as if I was talking in tongues. I was flushed with the realization that people like Donny didn’t use Pinterest, people like Donny is who Pinterest is based on. After that, looking around the farm, I saw every project I had ever pinned brought to life and I felt a pang of jealousy.

Donny and the wood fire ovens. One has a face because he was bored.

We said goodbye and as I began my journey home I stopped in the driveway, taking in my final breathes on the property and absorbing its beauty one last time. As I drove home I ran through every twist and turn we had taken on the farm; recognizing that every bunch of kale and Swiss Chard was the product of a life’s work, not just an afternoon here and there, but every moment from sun up to sun down. The piles of food on the market table suddenly transformed into bundles of hours and devotion. I understood now why Donny’s displays look outrageous to a normal person, because Donny is not your average farmer. He’s Super Farmer and we are so crazy grateful to have him in our community. Donny Terpstra and Shoal Creek Berries is a corner stone vendor of the Downtown Farers’ Market and can be found there every Saturday 9 am- noon. They also host u-pick berry events in the fall.  You can follow Shoal Creek Berries on Facebook HERE or if you need to place an order you can head over to their website HERE

Finney Farm

Quick back story: nine years ago, my husband and I visited St. George because his band was playing a show at the Ancestor Square Farmer’s Market. As they picked some tunes, I shopped and enjoyed the local scene. I stumbled upon a cheese vendor. Blown away by the product, I bought a huge square of sharp cheddar and when the show ended we went back to our friend’s house. We all stood around this block of orange goodness and devoured it in less then an hour. I, no joke, have made reference to that cheese once a month for the past NINE YEARS, and every time cursing myself for not remembering the brand. This cheese was that good. Fast forward to last April when Utah passed HB 181, a law allowing raw milk to be sold from a refrigerated van, making it possible for Winford Barlow (a.k.a Finney) of Finney Farm to sell at the Farmer’s Market again which I had just joined as management. My excitement about solving my-cheese-that-got-away mystery was more alarming than flattering I’m sure, but I still managed to convince Finney it was safe to take me on a tour of his dairy.

 

The Finney Farm store front against the beautiful scenery.

If you take the UT-59 out of Hurricane you’re in for a glorious drive past Gooseberry Mesa, Apple Valley, and the quiet town of Hildale. It’s a small unassuming town that is slammed up against magnificent red rock faces. In my mind I refer to Hildale as “Tiny Zion.” I followed the little wooden signs promising ‘raw milk’ up a winding back road until I saw the small red store front emblazoned with two gigantic white Fs. I got out of my car and immediately tried to capture the early morning light hitting the gigantic rock face that backs up to the property. When I looked down the dirt road I saw Finney walking up to greet me. He had a big smile on his face and waved. “Isn’t it beautiful?” He pointed up at the mountain. He then began to tell me about all the great hikes up there and how next time I should plan one out. I nodded in agreement still trying to get my bearings. He beckoned me to follow him back down the dirt road. As I trailed after him, I asked why they chose cheese. Finney quickly answered that his wife had always made cheese and she got him into it. They have been in the industry for over 25 years graduating from both the Washington State University and Utah State University Cheesemaking programs.

We came down upon a beautiful red barn that matched the store front we had just left and in front of me were the sweetest Dulce de Leche colored cows I’ve ever seen. Finney started introducing me to the cows telling me their names, their birthdays, when they gave birth, favorite sleeping positions, and where they like to hang out. He would call out a name and a cow would look at him. I was struck by how responsive the cows were to him, they seemed more like gigantic dogs than the angry Black Angus that I grew up with. They are Brown Swiss cows. Finney said they chose that breed because they have high milking yields and they are extremely resistant to heat, which is the deciding factor of day to day life here in the desert. I asked if they used hormones on the cows. He shook his head, “We don’t use anything like that. We have a system. If they need rest, we rotate them out. We keep them healthy and they do just fine.” In a moment of naivety, I thought to myself that this was probably the case for most small, back yard ranches but not serious operations. I was about to learn just how serious of an operation Finney Farm was.

Inside the stainless steel dairy and the list of the registered cow’s names

As we walked through the doors into the big red barn shaped building, I was overwhelmed with all of the stainless steel and the high-tech instruments. Finney explained how the temperature is carefully monitored, how they test daily for bacteria in their state of the art lab on the top floor (they measure 0% bacteria by the way), and how they process 260 gallons of milk a day. “A DAY?!” I asked. Finney nodded. “Everything is processed within 24 hours of milking.” My jaw dropped. He showed me the milking and sanitization processes. He took me outside to their Mozzarella smoker. Picking up on how excited I was getting, Finney showed me their new experimental batches of cheese. He pulled out the most beautiful cheese wheel I had ever seen. It was their new bandaged wrapped English style Cheddar (which means it’s coated in butter before it starts aging). He then pointed out their new feta and sheep milk cheeses. I stood there flabbergasted. “Is this all your storage?” I asked with a hint of jealousy. “Oh no, we have an aging hanger across town. We have about 16 tons aging right now. Most of it over 5 years old.” I started laughing. That means somewhere in the small quaint town of Hildale is hiding 16 tons of some seriously delicious cheese. It brought a whole new kind of treasure hunt to mind.

From left to right: Finney’s famous curd, Finney showing off the English Cheddar, and aging sheep milk cheeses

 

Our tour was wrapping up and we walked back through the building. One of Finney’s daughters was filling frozen yogurt containers. He looked at me, “Do you want a frozen yogurt cone?” With a huge smile, I said yes. He quickly and professionally filled me a waffle cone with the prettiest cream and purple colored yogurt I’d ever seen. He filled one for himself and his son. We walked outside into the

This houses the entire operation and at the top of the white staircase is the only spot you’ll receive cell service on the whole property.

early morning sunlight and ate our frozen yogurt. It was perfect. I trailed behind Finney back up to the store front with a belly full of happiness. He gave me a tour of the store which not only sells all their raw milk products but locally made bread and tortillas. I thought this would be the perfect stop before heading up the canyon for a hike. I bought some sharp cheddar and tortillas and said my goodbyes as I stopped one last time to take in the spectacular view. I left feeling good about being able to bring such an amazing product from such a beautiful place to St. George.

 

Finney Farm will be one of the cornerstone vendors featured every weekend at the Farmer’s Market at Ancestor Square. If you find yourself with a free afternoon and some cheese needs, head out to Hildale for some hiking and visit the Finney Farm store front. You can keep up with Finney’s on Facebook here or visit their homepage here. I would like to point out also that my tour of the farm is a special occurrence, they must protect the biosecurity of the farm so the number of visitors to the animals is limited.

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