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Vineyard Garden Center quietly closing business

By Karissa Neely daily Herald - | Dec 27, 2015
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JaNae Riley wipes away a tear as Grant Holdaway, owner of Vineyard Gardens, closes the store's doors forever amongst friends and family Dec. 24, 2015 in Orem. Vineyard Gardens had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Holly Dayley, granddaughter of Vineyard Gardens owner Grant Holdaway, hangs up letters as the store closes a final time Dec. 24, 2015 in Orem. Vineyard Gardens had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Grant Holdaway locks the front doors of Vineyard Gardens as the store closes a final time Dec. 24, 2015 in Orem. Vineyard Gardens had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Grant Holdaway is surrounded by friends, family and final customers as the store closes a final time Dec. 24, 2015 at Vineyard Gardens Orem. Vineyard Gardens had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Grant Holdaway hugs longtime friend and customer Doril Watson as the store closes a final time on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015 at Vineyard Garden Center in Orem. Vineyard Garden Center had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Grant Holdaway, owner of Vineyard Garden Center in Orem, poses for a photo with the store's few remaining poinsettias on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015, the store's last day of operation. Vineyard Garden Center had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. SPENSER HEAPS, Daily Herald

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Grant Holdaway, owner of Vineyard Garden Center in Orem, poses for a photo in an empty greenhouse on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015, the store's last day of operation. Vineyard Garden Center had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. SPENSER HEAPS, Daily Herald

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Grant Holdaway, owner of Vineyard Garden Center in Orem, gives a tour of the store's empty greenhouses on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015, the store's last day of operation. Vineyard Garden Center had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. SPENSER HEAPS, Daily Herald

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Grant Holdaway, owner of Vineyard Garden Center in Orem, gives a tour of the store's empty greenhouses on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015, the store's last day of operation. Vineyard Garden Center had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. SPENSER HEAPS, Daily Herald

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Grant Holdaway, owner of Vineyard Garden Center in Orem, talks to his granddaughter Holly Dayley on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015, the store's last day of operation. Vineyard Garden Center had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. SPENSER HEAPS, Daily Herald

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Grant Holdaway is surrounded by friends, family and final customers as the store closes a final time on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015 at Vineyard Garden Center Orem. Vineyard Garden Center had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Holly Dayley laughs with her grandfather, and Vineyard Garden Center owner Grant Holdaway, as the store closes a final time on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015 in Orem. Vineyard Garden Center had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Grant Holdaway checks the register one last time while friends and family wait outside as the store closes a final time on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015 at Vineyard Garden Center Orem. Vineyard Garden Center had been open for 53 years prior to its closing. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

Without much fanfare, but with more than a few tears, the Holdaway family closed the Vineyard Garden Center doors and the business, on Christmas Eve afternoon.

A white and black lettered sign attached to the front doors explained the reason for the final closure of a store that has been a staple on Geneva Road since 1981 — “Too old, too tired.”

Farmer Grant Holdaway started farming and selling his plants and produce 53 years ago from his three-acre home plot just across the street from the Vineyard Garden Center. Many of those years also were spent working as a school teacher.

“He’d get up and do chores in the morning, then scoot into school barely on time, and then come home and work on the farm for the rest of the day,” said Danielle Taylor, Holdaway’s daughter.

Holdaway, 84, grew up on a dairy farm in Vineyard, but Taylor said he really didn’t like cows, so he worked on the farm’s vegetable gardens. By the time he was 12, he was in charge of the family’s garden.

After a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a stint in the Marines and graduating from Brigham Young University, Holdaway came back to Vineyard. In the 1960s, he bought the red brick home he still lives in, and started to farm “to make sure the kids had work to do in the summer,” he said. His children all earned money for their music lessons, activities, even their first car, by working alongside their father.

“Hoe to the end of your row,” is a saying that Holdaway has been using for years. He got it from the anonymous poem “Hoe To The End of the Row!” and taught it to all five of his children.  

And according to those who know Holdaway best, he has always been the best example of one who values hard work and persistence and believes in finishing what he starts. Taylor said her father’s favorite saying has been the family motto as they have faced many of life’s adventures and challenges, even as their youth go on missions, or families take on new jobs.

“We all learned to work here,” Taylor said Christmas Eve as she looked around the Garden Center. “We all spent time on the farm, and learned to work. Our kids have learned to work from summers on the farm with Dad. I guess he can close now.”

Taylor’s daughter, Holly Dayley, learned to work growing up on the farm and at the family store, but she also remembers many fun times. She recalled how she and her cousins would make “jungle forts out of the house plants displays.” All the things, as the store manager, she never wanted customer’s kids to do.

“We treated it like our personal playground. I don’t think it went over well,” Daley said with a laugh.

Dayley has been working at the store for 12 years, and she is amazed she stuck with it for so long. Now that the store is closing, she’s going to concentrate on finishing her nursing degree.

“I love horticulture, but it doesn’t pay well,” she said. 

For the Holdaway family, working at their father’s and grandfather’s shop was only a part time job while they worked on other careers. But even at that rate, it still tied many of them to the ebb and flow of the seasons, and the unique magic of being a part of bringing a seedling to life.

“I cherish working beside him [Holdaway]. There have been lots of wonderful memories,” Dayley said. “I know how to work hard, and my hands are rougher than my husband’s. Now, my garden is my place. I find peace in my garden.”

The decision to close the store was a hard one for Holdaway and the family, one they only finalized about a month ago. But the 12-14 hour days, six days a week that Holdaway put in was starting to wear on him. And the business itself hasn’t grown much in the past few years, despite Vineyard’s explosion of growth.

“It’s all condos and townhomes, high density housing here. So no one’s gardening or canning,” Taylor said. “Back in the day, there were no big box stores. People canned more, and there used to be lines out the door for our cucumbers and produce. But there’s lots of competition now.”

Pumpkinland, Holdaway’s pride and joy, was the first of its kind to offer a fun Halloween-themed activity for little children. He loved entertaining the school groups that used to come to the event, but then Hee Haw’s and Cornbelly’s came to town, and less and less children came to see Farmer Grant.

And while their store may be closing, but the Holdaway family will be just as tight, together and hard working as it ever was. Last March, the family set the world record for most family members participating in an ultramarathon — all to honor their mother, Barbara, who died in October 2014, and to rally around their father and grandfather who has been competing in ultramarathons since he picked up running in his 60s.

Holdaway, who has always gotten up around 4 a.m. to get in his runs before chores and work, might be able to sleep in just a bit more now — but knowing him, probably not. He said now he’ll also fill his days with unfinished family history research and service in the LDS temple.

The family hasn’t yet decided what will come of the seven-acre plot of land where the store sits. Just making the decision to close was hard enough, according to Taylor.

“I feel like my heart is being cut out for the second time,” Holdaway said. “It is what it has to be, but I don’t have to like it.”

The love Holdaway has for seedlings and gardening is still strong, but he’s saddened that the shop won’t provide donations of food to the Orem Senior Center and the Utah County Food and Care Coalition, as it has for years. But serving others and sharing the bounty of his harvest work has always made him the happiest, so he’s very likely to find a way to continue doing so.

Holdaway still has a row to hoe and, though an era has ended, he will still be out there working his way to the end.

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