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Celebrate The Story Of A Farm

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Credit Carolyn Murray / KPCW Radio
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KPCW Radio

The Osguthorpe family has been farming in Park City since 1945. The family along with many hundreds of donors were honored in a celebration held by the Summit Land Conservancy on Thursday to mark the agricultural conservation of the 160-acre farm on Old Ranch Road.

Steve Osguthorpe has lived in Park City most of his life. He and his wife raised their 7 kids in a house on SR 224 across from what is now known as the McPolin Farm. In those days, 224 was a two- lane road and at times traffic would be stopped while cows crossed from one side to the other. His father was a veterinarian and worked on horses that were used in the mining operations. He bought up land when the mining economy shifted away from Park City. Eventually he sold the pasture and barn to Park City which is now preserved as open space.

“Originally, it was the Slaughterhouse Farm if you want to go clear back. But my father built the silos. The only thing there was the main big barn. He built the part on the front of it. The part they tore down, and redid, the calf shed on the side there. He built that.”

The Old Ranch Road farm grows alfalfa and oats for feed. And they supply hay to the resort as well. Osguthorpe has 17 grandchildren, who he says are all interested in preserving their agricultural heritage. When it’s time to move their livestock, everyone steps in, herding the sheep and the cows and driving the semi’s back and forth from the winter range in central Utah. He says it was a family decision to put the land into an agricultural easement instead of selling it for the $20 million in appraised value.

Osguthorpe says his father used to work in the family sawmill in Mill Creek Canyon. He rode horses from Mill Creek over the ridgeline to investigate the area with a dream of making his life as a farmer in Park City.

“The big old white barn and the ground across the street. My father gave over 6 acres to Park City along Kearns Boulevard, PC Mountain, now this. Without this open space, Park City isn’t near as a desirable a place.”

In 2017, Summit Land conservancy received nearly $9 million in federal grant money from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. About a year and a half later, with 4 million donated by the family as a landowner gift, and the 1200 individual community donations of more than $5 million, they completed their fundraising campaign to put a permanent agricultural easement on the land.  The total project cost was $18 million.

“People up here. They appreciate the open space and they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is. And I really appreciate that. They have the same vision I do. When I was a kid, there was creeks down across here with big cottonwood trees and then willows down in the northeast corner. We started to farm, and I cut the trees down and we went from flood irrigation to hand sprinklers and when we got the whole place cleared, we went to wheel lines. Now, we’ve gone from wheel lines to a center pivot.”

He says it’s the most efficient system they’ve had, and they raise a lot more crops with a lot less water.

Osguthorpe says they tried to negotiate with Summit County to allow winter access like what’s done in the Round Valley area called Land of OZ.

“They wanted to ski on here. And we wanted to have them ski on here. But in the agreement, we did with Park City, we had two sentences. Never had a bit of trouble. They came to me with a 14-page document that basically was going to tell us how we could farm, and I say, I don’t want to deal with you.”

Becky Ross is the acting state conservationist with the NRDC. Through the federal farm bill funding, they’ve helped preserve about 30,000 acres in Utah.

“It’s like you see the landscape dotted with houses and everything and to know this 160-acres is going to be preserved in agriculture for years to come, you know in perpetuity. It’s an honor to be a part of this and it’s great to work with people like Summit Land Conservancy that can find those donors out there to help them and see the importance. And with the Osguthorpe’s too, that want to leave their legacy.”

Osguthorpe says he’s got another alfalfa field on 224 near the Canyons that he would like to conserve but he realizes that Summit Land Conservancy needs a breather. 

 
 

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