Hydroponic Farm Preserves Family History, Supports Community with ‘Eat Well, Do Good’ Philosophy
May 12, 2016 | Joy Leopold
The land used for Snuck Farm has been in Page Westover’s family for more than 100 years; her family helped to settle the idyllic town of Pleasant Grove, Utah, where it is located. Westover says the idea to use the remaining land (much of it has been sold or parceled off over the decades) for sustainable farming came out of a desire to preserve a piece of history while serving their community.
“My dad grew up on this property. We decided that we would revitalize it and preserve a piece of our family history,” says Westover. “We wanted to preserve the pasture, and we wanted to maintain the animals that have been there.”
The farm, which has been in operation for about one year, offers leafy green vegetables grown using hydroponics. Their greenhouse is currently growing different kinds of kale, lettuce, and other salad greens, in addition to chard, basil, and many other herbs.
Westover says the farm is also in the process of developing an outdoor farmyard where they will grow fruits and other vegetables to round out their selection.
Westover says the farm’s mission, “Eat well, do good,” represents what she hopes is the impact of the farm’s presence in their community.
“Our mission is to be a force for good in our community. We’ve had some great examples of community service from my grandpa and parents and we want to have the farm exemplify that,” Westover says. “We’re trying to do more – classes, having school groups come in and learn about farming, partnering with local food banks, and things like that. It is a big part of why we’re doing this.”
Located in a neighborhood among single-family homes, their farm is already doing good by providing an ecologically friendly food source to local residents. Westover says the food they grow is distributed within a 15-mile radius of the farm, and can be found in local restaurants and cafeterias as well as farmers’ markets and some grocery stores.
Additionally, Westover and her husband are developing an edible farmyard with a wider selection of fruits and vegetables to complement the offerings from the hydroponic greenhouse, which allows them to grow up to five times more vegetables than traditional farming while allowing them to recycle 90 percent of the water they use.
“The fact that we can do this is why hydroponics is so nice – you can get food closer to where it’s grown,” she says. “It’s cool – it’s another way to grow a lot of food for your community.”
While Westover is a strong advocate for hydroponics now, she says she was a bit apprehensive when she was first introduced to the idea. After extensive research and what she says amounted to old-fashioned trial and error, Westover realized it was the best option for her 3.5-acre farm. Westover and her husband and business partner selected a system from American Hydroponics to use for their farm, which she says is located in a part of Utah that is prone to drought.
“We have water that flows naturally through our property, and irrigation that we can use throughout the year,” she says. “It was like it was meant to be.”
Though the farm is just in the beginning stages of production, Westover says the farm is well on its way to becoming what she and her husband had envisioned. Their goal of living completely off of revenues from the farm has not yet been reached, but this year promises to bring them closer to that goal.
“[Hydroponics] are not a perfect way to farm, but we like that it was a piece in the puzzle of different ways to farm,” says Westover. “There’s not one way that works for every community and every place, and we love that we can be right in our neighborhood and provide our community with food.”