Why Wyoming is a special place to grow

April 11, 2019

Why Wyoming is a special place to grow

This is an excerpt from a podcast interview we did on a national podcast called Farm To Table Talk. Host Rodger Wasson was blown away when he saw pictures of farms in Wyoming because he usually talks to people from either the West or East coasts. Read on to find out why Wyoming is such a special place to farm:


"R: You know, I went on your, on your website, and you've got a picture across there that shows some people are working on one of the farms and see things growing. One of the things that strikes me is that the land right there looks similar to a lot of places in the country. It doesn't look like the high desert I think of, it's green pastures in the background. The soil looks pretty rich. It's dark soils. It's not, sand and sparse, a high plains desert. It's just interesting. Even that picture is not what we'd normally think to be just outside of Yellowstone, right?

Z: Yeah, absolutely. That's Shoshone River Farm I'm sure. They spend years on composting all sorts of stuff to make the soil black. That was actually one of the things that struck me about that farm, because I saw a documentary about it before I moved out here. Scott, the farmer, is growing for close to nine months in the toughest growing season in the country. Wyoming is the shortest growing season on average for the whole country. That soil is what makes it possible. They've got incredible hoophouses, and facilities on the farm that make it possible. They can do some pretty amazing stuff with compost to make Illinois type soil in Wyoming. Even some of the grazing producers that we have, are doing rotational grazing. So they're actually moving their livestock every day and through a specific, really small pasture. That makes their soil almost like Illinois quality over a period of five to 10 years. So it's really amazing when you can do in some of the toughest growing area in the US. 

R: Yeah, no, what's interesting is you and I've talked about briefly that we're both from Illinois and so I know what you're talking about. That soil is dark and deep and rich. And, and the thing that's really interesting to me that you've just mentioned is that you're talking about the people making the soil darker and blacker and building the soil up, which is really the definition of regenerative agriculture. 

Yeah. And the amazing other thing I'm just going to say quickly is that, you know, people think about, gee, soils aren't what they used to be. No. In some places that are better than they used to be because, if people think of all the cowboy shows, they saw butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and you know, riding across those range, you see that high desert kind of land and it is pretty bleak. They didn't have much organic matter, but when you're actually are talking about these farms. They're building it. That's, that's incredible. 

Z: It is. And some of the customers that I've be done working with in the past couple of years, were kind of shocked that we even have this kind of product, like having the availability of melons in September. They were like, really? Is that what you have? You have melons and these melons are like, they are the best thing since sliced bread. I, I've never tasted melons like this before. They taste like there's sugar injected into them and again, it's all because of the soil. The soil work that our farmers do at this time of year is what makes it possible. When they're turning the compost piles. And one cool thing about Wyoming is there is no shortage of manure since there is so much beef operation here. I mean everybody has a factory like within a mile or so of the farm, so you've got plenty of manure to make the compost happen. It's not really rocket surgery, it's just a matter of making it happen. But yeah, it's, it's pretty shocking cause this is probably the hardest place in the US to grow except for places like northern Alaska. That's probably a little harder.

R: Well again, I'm going to be redundant, but just the fact that you can actually see examples of where it's a lot better now than it was even a hundred years ago. I've talked to some farmers out here in California that we're talking about. They know what the land was like and see some of the missions in the late 1700's that haven't been touched and they can see examples of the soil as it existed then. And then the right across the street, there's orchards that have been developing the land and it is clearly much better, much richer than it than it used to be. So I just hope more people kind of look at the pictures and hear those stories and see there's people out there really making the land better. And as a result, they're actually making really good food products, which is what you're doing. And you were just describing those melons and uh, I want to try those melons someday! 

Z: Yeah. I hope I can send you some or something or they're incredible! 

R: It's funny, it's kind of like, you know, the French refer to it as the terroir, the territory of land that's affecting the taste of the wine. I would imagine that we could get to that point that we could say, oh, that tastes like a Wyoming melon, you know, versus a Florida melon or, a melon from California. 

Z: That's the goal is I think every square inch of the country has its own unique flavor. And that's what we're really trying to highlight with FarmTableWest the flavors of just the Big Horn Basin. Not even the whole state of Wyoming because the Big Horn Basin is a small part of the whole state. It's also interesting too, that we do work with 15 to 30 different farms and they're all in different locations, but they're within probably a hundred miles of our central location. But a farm and Worland has a completely different growing season than in Cody because of the altitude. So there's lots of altitude change around. It's not very flat. So Worland I believe is like 1500 feet lower than Cody is. So that's why they're able to grow those melons and they grow way better tomatoes then Cody does because it's a lot cooler in Cody in the summertime. So they have amazing products like that and Powell as well. But Cody is cooler throughout the entire summer. So Cody can grow lettuce and salad greens way better than Worland can because it's too hot down there and those crops will bolt. So it's really cool place because we can actually have a little bit of everything throughout the whole season by working together."

To hear our whole podcast interview click here for iTunes OR here for Spotify.


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