Emily Buckley, editor-in-chief
Farming is a family tradition for the Meikle family of Cache Valley. Four generations have worked on the 2000-acre Mt. Naomi Farm in the Hyde Park area, and although it has gone from a turkey farm to a cattle pasture and on to a hay and wheat field, it has always stayed in the family.
Nestled on the east side of the family property is the home of Keith and Brenda Meikle. Keith, the grandson of the elder Keith Meikle who established the farm in 1946, grew up working the fields and continues that work today.
“When we were gifted a portion of the land, I had a vision of what I wanted for our kids,” Brenda said. Keith and Brenda were living in a residential neighborhood in North Logan at the time and decided that although farming was Keith’s job, their children weren’t getting the experience of growing up on a farm, so they decided to build a home on the land and create something their children, Emma, Jonathon, Joseph and Isabelle, could be a part of. Thus was the birth of Mt. Naomi Vineyard and U-Pick, an eight-acre sustainable u-pick farm.
“I had the idea that we’d be able to work together in the fields,” Brenda said. “I wanted to teach my children about hard work and providing for themselves. It isn’t always as perfect as I imagined, but it has been a great opportunity for our kids to earn money for their activities, school clothes and more.” Their children help move pipe in the fields, provide customer service, hay rides in the fall and everything in between to keep the farm a go.
Keith and Brenda planted their first crop on the u-pick six years ago, and are in their fifth season of picking. Their produce includes blackberries and raspberries, which are available for picking in August and September, corn, pumpkins, grapes and peaches which are available in September and October and apples and Asian pears, which are best after the first frost.
Mt. Naomi Vineyard and U-Pick is a sustainable farm, which focuses on healthy soil to produce healthy crops that have optimum vigor and are less susceptible to pests. They use low-nitrate fertilizers and are no-till operators. This helps their crops to improve year after year, keeps prices competitive and will keep them farming for years to come.
The farm is open for picking during season, which follows Mother Nature’s schedule, from 7:30 a.m. to noon, Monday through Saturday. Brenda said to get the best picking experience people should come early, since that is when the fruit is sweetest and will last the longest. Pickers should wear long pants and closed-toe shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen and a water bottle.
“It is fun for people to see where their food comes from,” Brenda said. “Picking the fruit is both an experience and a treat…you’ll be in awe when you taste a real blackberry that melts in your mouth and is sweet to the core.”
The Meikles sell more than 8,000 pounds of berries to u-pickers each year and thousands more pounds of grapes that are used for eating fresh and making juice and wine. They also open their pumpkin patch in the fall for families to come take a hayride around the vineyard and choose a pumpkin for $5, regardless of the size.
Produce that isn’t sold to u-pickers is donated to the Cache Valley Food Pantry, Loaves and Fishes Community Meal and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for fundraising.
Keith and Brenda have plans and dreams to keep Mt. Naomi Vineyard growing and developing. They planted another acre of a new variety of grapes this summer, which will be a treat for juicers and wine makers next year. They also intend to create an on-site venue that will offer Cache Valley a quaint place for events in the vineyard.
To stay up to date about what produce is in season and what is ahead at Mt. Naomi Vineyard and U-Pick, follow their Facebook page
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