December 5, 2022

Organic farm sprouting business for Clayton Beckett

Clayton Beckett grew up on his family’s farm, and is using some of that knowledge to create his own business of combining organic farming with yoga and holistic practices.

Having studied Urban Planning and Environmental Studies at the University of Utah, and then managing the family farm, he said he first got the idea to farm organically approximately four years ago.

Beckett now has approximately 1/2 acre of the farm dedicated to his organic produce. He said it was given to him by his family, to see if he can create marketable products. In the first year of production, he’s grown many fruits and veggies, including peppers, radishes, melons, eggplants, okra, cucumbers, and squash, as well as beefsteak, heirloom, roma, grape, and husk cherry tomatoes, using compost from the farm’s animals. But the best selection may be years away.

“In conventional farming, you’re feeding the plant. In organic farming, you’re feeding the soil,” he said, adding that it can take seven to 10 years for the soil to be enriched enough to produce top-notch vegetables.

Explaining that spots on tomatoes, for example, make them less marketable, but more-nutritious soil will make them look more palatable.

“The yields will be better. I have some tomatoes that have spots and stuff. It’s something in the soil, and it’s just some of them,” he said. “That section of the tomatoes has produced tomatoes I can’t sell. I’ll eat them. They’re fine, but I can’t sell them because people don’t like blemishes on things. When soil is healthier, just like a person, you can fight diseases easier.”

He said he prefers the organic farming, even though it can be more complex, and can take longer. Organic pesticides, Beckett said, are not as potent as conventional ones, which means more applications.

“There’s more money in the organic market, in terms of price points per unit,” he said. “My best cash crop are the husk cherries. They’re a different style, kind of like tomatillos. It’s a bizarre flavor. It doesn’t start sweet, but it ends sweet.”

“It’s trial-and-error to see what I can grow successfully,” he said, adding that his 100 plants of the husk cherries could yield up to $5,000 at the market.

Beckett has sold some of his produce directly. The hope is to start selling to local restaurants and stores. Planning for year two, Beckett hopes to increase the composting, including finding more sources. He’s also researching viability and marketing opportunities.

“I could have done better with the land,” he said, assessing what areas to improve upon. “I want to do more spring crops. I had a couple of cauliflowers, but I’d probably just do the fall crop. A lot of agriculture is if you can get at least two uses from the same plot of land in a season. The equation of farming, to make money, is to have vegetable fields you can get a minimum of two harvests on.”

Beckett has also hosted yoga sessions on a slice of Earle Park adjacent to the organic farm, which is another side of his business he hopes to grow.

“People are into it on social media,” he said. “I’m trying to figure it out how to push that more successfully.”

The plan going forward is to incorporate the yoga and farming into one experience, because the mindset of both is similar and because a farm site is tranquil and open to hosting other activities.

“I would love to create a yoga/spiritual center,” he said. “I want to do [yoga] based on agriculture. Humility comes from hard work. You aren’t going to find someone more humble than a farm worker. Those are the people who I talk to, and they humble me. I want it to be something where you work in the garden and maybe you get paid, or volunteer and get produce, but also there are yoga classes.”

The possibilities of different facets of the business, Beckett said, are endless. He hopes to expand to meet people’s needs, based on their input and that of the community.

“Ultimately, the way to build a better community is participating in the market system,” he said. “That leads me to trying to do adjacencies to the agriculture that make sense, to create a diverse revenue portfolio, but more importantly, to have different niches for different people, to ultimately bring community – to bring individuals to have a good experience, but also a diverse experience that is more enriching.”

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