What started as a new experiment in farming has blossomed into a fully functioning, successful farm.
The Westover family started Snuck Farm three years ago on three acres in Pleasant Grove with a rather new concept: hydroponic farming. This method grows rows and rows of lettuce greens in what look like enclosed rain gutters, using mineral nutrient solutions in water, without soil beds. The solution provides all the minerals and nutrients the plants need for growth, and cut down on the danger of plant diseases and contaminants.
“I’ve learned so much over the past three years. It’s been a big learning curve. And we’re all still learning all the time. That’s the most satisfying thing — learning myself, and watching other people learn and enjoy their job,” said Page Westover, who started and oversees Snuck Farm operations.
Stephanie Asay, hydroponic greenhouse manager at the farm, said the farm has grown significantly in yield and customer base over the past three years. She’s also enjoyed the learning process as the farm has grown. She loves the opportunity to solve unique problems every day at work.
“Hydroponics is such a new industry, and there are not a lot of resources. A lot of our experience at the farm has been based on trial and error. There will be a problem and we have to solve it, and then move onto the next problem,” Asay said.
Their farming processes have evolved and changed significantly since the beginning, she added. She likened hydroponic farming to a “constantly moving puzzle,” where changes in humidity, temperature and light all can impact plant growth and health.
“We have to piece it all together and react based on those different environmental conditions,” Asay said. “Now, we’ve learned enough that we are able to fine tune the process instead of just experience it, and project how things will grow next year.”
Today, Snuck Farm provides hydroponically grown wholesale lettuces and greens year-round to local restaurants, eateries and a number of Silicon Slopes tech companies’ in-office kitchens. Individual consumers also can enjoy the fruits of farm through its Snuck Shares — a community supported agriculture, or CSA, subscription in which residents pay month-to-month for a weekly batch of greens. Locals can also expand their palettes through Snuck’s seasonal farm share program started this year, which provides subscription members with weekly greens, eggs and other vegetables grown in the farmyard soil.
The farmyard growth is a newer addition to the farm, but one planned from the beginning, Westover said. She knew the farm would evolve into much more than just that one farming technique.
“From the beginning, we wanted to be diverse and showcase a variety of farming methods. I like to speak to a number of different ways to farm,” she said Wednesday.
They added a soil greenhouse, dubbed “The Dirt House,” this year, and grew root vegetables and larger yield vegetables that would take up too much space if grown hydroponically.
“Some crops, like carrots, just don’t do well in the hydroponic system,” said Mariana Last-Bills, farmyard manager and CSA coordinator. The food grown in the Dirt House complements food that’s grown hydroponically, and gives the end eater a greater variety. It is also what gave Snuck Farm the ability to provide its farm shares program.
“I like the yield of the hydroponics, but I also like nurturing the soil, and the variety we have growing in the soil,” Westover said. She prefers to think of herself as a “cultivator” more than a farmer.
Driving by the farm, located along 1100 North in Pleasant Grove, one might notice some new construction projects as well. Westover said they are building a farm stand. She hopes it will be fully functioning by spring, and provide locals a way to stop in and purchase local farm food in a more retail-like experience.
Snuck Farm is a functioning farm and not open to the public, or to tours. Locals can enjoy food from the farm through its CSA program, through monthly classes, by purchasing from the farm’s website shop, attending the farm’s yearly plant sale in the spring, or even by volunteering for two- or four-hour shifts.
To learn more, visit the farm’s website, https://snuckfarm.com.