On the west side of Spanish Fork City, in an area originally settled as the town of Leland, sits the Larsen Farm, which is celebrating its 150 year Anniversary this year.
Lars and Johanne Larsen immigrated to Utah from Denmark in 1869. They settled in Spanish Fork and began farming west of town in Leland.
“Lar Larsen originally grew wheat and raised sheep. Over the years our family has also raised beef cattle and grown alfalfa, corn, barley, oats, wheat, lima beans, peas and sugar beets,” said Kara Lewis, who is the sixth generation to work the farm. “Currently my father, Rex Larsen, the 5th generation of our family to farm in Leland, grows certified seed barley, certified weed-free alfalfa, and corn for grain and continues to raise beef cattle.”
Like many farms, most of the alfalfa the family grows feeds their own animals. Additionally, the barley is sold to a seed company and the most of the corn is sold as a commodity. When Lewis and her family moved back to Utah and the farm a couple of years ago she could see that the family’s business wouldn’t sustain the farm into the future.
“It is a difficult time to be a farmer right now as prices of crops and livestock are depressed while expenses continue to rise. I could see that the thought of having to sell the family farm to development was causing a considerable amount of stress to my father,” she said.
That’s when the idea of Glen Ray’s Corn Maze was born. Last year they dedicated about 20 acres of the farm’s more than 300 acres to a corn maze and pumpkin patch, which is named after Lewis’ grandfather, Glen Ray Larsen. The venture was very successful and offered an additional stream of revenue in the fall.
To help market the new venture Lewis joined the Utah’s own program, which lead to her being invited recently to compete in the business pitch grant competition at the 4th Annual Women’s Entrepreneurial Conference (WEC) Held April 17, 2019 in Holladay, Utah. Lewis won first place.
“Winning a $5,000 WEC grant will help our family business expand into more seasons and allow us to continue to share more than one hundred years of farming with families in the community for generations to come,” said Lewis. “Helping to preserve agriculture in our area has become a passion of mine and this grant will allow us to create an outdoor interactive classroom that families and school groups can visit to learn about agriculture and where their food comes.”
Lewis said she believes that farmers have to tell their story as part of their business plan.
“This will allow us to not only share our family’s story with other families, but also educate and help people gain a greater respect and appreciation to the farmers and ranchers who put food on their table every day.”
Learn more about the family farm and business at https://glenrayscornmaze.com/about/