Published on Saturday, June 24, 2017
Nathan Ashcraft has a lot of memories on his family’s farm near Sugar City, Idaho. It’s where he grew up. And now, he’s raising his family, and diverse range of crops.
After getting a Ag Systems degree at Utah State, Nathan wasn’t sure he was ready to come home. But, looking back, he’s thankful he did.
“Dad said, 'Come on home! I need you home.' And that was kind of hard because I was like, 'I don't know, you know, I'm kind of having fun trying something new.'” Nathan recalls. “But it was a good thing I did because two and a half years later, he passed away. He got pancreatic cancer and was gone in the typical 18 months.”
“So then, Mom and I just buckled down and figured out how to make it work.” Nathan continues. A few years later, Nathan married his wife, Jamie, and introduced her to the farming lifestyle.
“I had friends that were farmers, but I didn't grow up doing it.” Jamie says, looking back. “We had a big garden. I got to weed the garden. That's about it.”
Nathan misses his father, but hopes he’s making him proud, moving the farm forward. “We had a lot of rough times, but every day was an adventure figuring out how to solve the next problem.” Nathan reflects. “It was just being with him. I guess we both have a dry sense of humor, so I could get his jokes. I just liked being with him. It was fun.”
The farm has changed a lot over the years, but the Ashcrafts are proud of the progress they’ve made. Today Nathan raises potatoes, peas, wheat, spelt, and cattle. After Jamie joined the family, she partnered with Nathan’s older brother to selling fruits and vegetables at the farmers market. Now, even the couple’s young sons are involved.
“That's the beauty of the farmers market, being able to grow something and have the kids help us grow it. They know it and they actually go with us to the markets. And sometimes they are our best sales people at the market.” Nathan explains.
Jamie adds, “The eleven-year-old knows every single variety of every single thing that we have. He can tell you all about it and he's really good at explaining, 'Well, this potato is good for this. This apple is good for that. You want this blueberry.' He knows them. And then the ten-year-old is the best money counter I have. He can count change like nobody else. The whole experience, it's a good thing for them.” Jamie says with a proud smile.
The couple loves to watch their children’s responsibility and work ethic grow. “The boys will come out and help me, and I come home and I see them doing what we've done.” Nathan beams. “They will organize their tractors to do what we've done for the day, or what we've been doing that week. It's funny to watch them do the carpet farming because they understand it. It's amazing how well they pick up on what this machine does, how it does it, and why it does it. Even at two and three years of age.”
In addition to watching their children learn, it’s rewarding to teach their customers. “Probably the best part is educating, like at the farmers market. As we grow it, people are like, 'What is that? And you grew that?' And being able to say, I did that, and let me tell you why and what it's good for and why we grew it and all the ends and outs of each thing. That's probably more satisfying than anything is teaching people and showing them what we did.” Jamie explains.
Nathan lights up as he tells stories of excited customers returning for more fresh produce. “It’s unreal. I love it! It just makes me feel good when somebody comes back and makes the connection.” He exclaims.
At the end of the day, Nathan can’t imagine living any other way. “It’s my family heritage. I wouldn’t know what else to do.”
That’s why Nathan Ashcraft farms.
Author: Nate Rottero
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Why I Farm, cattle, Wheat, Becks Hybrids, Why I Farm Roadtrip, produce, potatoes, Becks Blog, Idaho farmer, farmers market, Nathan Ashcraft, Jamie Ashcraft Comme