Produce markets: Leeward Tree Farm sells veggiesWritten by Saige Albert
“We started selling vegetables about 1996,” comments Kylie Smidt, member of the Smidt family, who owns Leeward Tree Farm. “We’ve been selling vegetables for about 15 years.
Beginning a farm
The family operation began when Smidt’s parents Bruce and Jennifer Smidt began the tree farm in 1994. They started growing vegetables around the same time. Her brother Freddie also works with both the vegetable and tree aspects of the farm.
The main segment of the operation is the tree aspect of the business. Leeward Tree Farm began marketing and selling trees in 1998.
“We have 10 acres of trees west of Casper,” Smidt says. “We specialize in the native trees, but we grow hardy introduced species as well.”
Freddie works primarily with the tree portion of the business, while Smidt concentrates on vegetables, but they work together to get all the jobs done on the farm.
She notes that while they don’t have huge variety, if it is hardy in Casper, Leeward Tree Farm has it.
Though trees constitute the main portion of the business, in 1996, the Smidt’s began selling vegetables at farmers’ markets, and they have continued to expand from there.
After acquiring the land they currently operate on in 2004, Smidt says, “We had a trailer that we sold vegetables off of.”
In 2007, the family’s creativity and experience traveling across Western states led them to a more unique venue.
“My parents are originally from Iowa, and while driving out there, we had seen places where people used grain bins for a variety of things,” she explains. “We thought the grain bin would be a fun way to sell out of, rather than a trailer.”
The family acquired an old and unused grain bin from a neighbor and has been selling veggies from their grain bin stand since 2007.
Even with the grain bin stand, located on Zero Road west of Casper, Smidt sells produce weekly at the farmers’ market each Saturday at the Agriculture Resource and Learning Center in Casper.
“We usually start the last week of July with farmers’ markets,” she explains. “We don’t open the stand until the sweet corn is ready.”
The stand is open until six every evening, but Smidt notes that after six, there is some sweet corn and squash available, and payments are accepted based on the honor system. The other produce is only available when the stand is open.
Usually, Smidt says the stand opens in the middle to end of August, and it stays open until all of their pumpkin crops is sold, offering lots of opportunity to area residents to purchase the wide variety of fresh produce.
Lots of veggies
“We try to grow everything that we can here,” says Smidt. “Sweet corn is our biggest crop, and we have five acres of that. Pumpkins are our second biggest.”
The list of available produce includes sweet corn, winter squash, summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, carrots, cabbage, onions, eggplant, potatoes, green beans, zucchini, cantaloupe, honeydew and pumpkins.
“We do a little bit of everything,” she adds.
With little advertising done each year, Smidt says they have seen a growth in customers, regardless.
“There is enough traffic out here that we get quite a few people,” she says. “I’ve notice that most of our customers find out about us by word of mouth. We get quite a variety of people.”