Fresh, crisp and all-natural produce is just around the corner for Chris Pyper at Rustling Aspen Farm in Midway. With just a third of an acre, an unwavering drive and a love of his community, Pyper has built one of the finest all-natural farms on the Wasatch Back.
Living in Kentucky and farming with his friend Annie for four years, Pyper couldn’t imagine setting down roots so far from the Heber Valley. “I wanted to move home and grow for the community that I grew up in,” he said. After being gone from the valley for seven years, he packed up the knowledge he gained in Kentucky and returned to his beloved home in Midway.
Pyper was home for less than a week when he picked the site for his greenhouse, staked the garden area and began tilling the ground for his very own garden plot. “I wanted to grow things that I like to eat and cook,” Pyper explained. “I want to offer my clients a wide variety of produce that are interesting and grow well.”
Known for his full-bodied curly kale, vibrant rainbow Swiss chard, juicy tomatoes and crisp salad mixes, Pyper hand-clips his produce each morning for local restaurants and clients alike. “I grow better than organic standards specify,” said Pyper. “I never spray chemical fertilizers and always use my own compost.”
As much as he is concerned about what he puts on his vegetables, he is equally as concerned about what he puts into the soil to feed them. Pyper uses manure from his family’s horses, veggie waste from the farm, grass clippings and coffee grounds from the coffee house he works at during the winter. He is always looking at ways to better his soil, because better soil equals better vegetables.
Cultivating a Future
Pyper is actively building and planning for the future of Rustling Aspen Farm. He is experimenting with new varieties of heirloom tomatoes, fennel, red cabbage, rainbow carrots and red curly kale — just to name a few — and has plans to further expand his farm-fresh offerings.
His ultimate goal is to one day have a closed loop system, which is a sustainable system that recycles all nutrients and organic matter back into the soil it grew in, preserving the nutrient and carbon levels within the soil. He looks forward to using grass clipping for weed suppression and moisture retention, as well as producing the most nutrient-rich compost with his own resources.
For now, Pyper is satisfied with the state of Rustling Aspen Farm. “I am able to grow the sweetest varieties possible,” he said. “I can get them to my clients within hours of being picked, giving them the most nutrient-rich, flavorful produce.”
A Man on a Mission
A graduate of Weber State University, Pyper served in the Peace Corps from 2007 to 2009. “The Peace Corps was the best opportunity to live abroad and to become fully immersed in another culture, as well as provide service,” he explained.
While in Morocco serving, he mainly assisted the traditional artisans who make daggers with small business development. He provided knowledge on marketing, product development and basic bookkeeping skills — skills that have served him well while running his blossoming farm business.
Pyper’s draw to service and his love for his community has naturally led him to help his neighbors in the Heber Valley. When his farm has an abundance of produce, he donates to the local food bank and the Christian Center. “It is my goal to produce more economical food for those who don’t have access to fresh, natural produce,” he said.
Pyper’s enthusiasm and knowledge about fresh produce is infectious — a passion you immediately recognize when entering his booth at the summer farmers market. It is this passion and zeal, along with his delicious all-natural produce, that sets Pyper and Rustling Aspen Farm apart from the rest.