SLIDESHOW: A look at Hamblin Dairy Farm
SYRACUSE -- Upward of 2,000 first- and second-graders from Davis County descended on Stanley Hamblin's dairy farm this week to see cows.
One hopes those kids had cameras and used them to photograph the cows. Hamblin's is the last dairy farm in Davis County and he's not making any promises he'll be there next year.
"More than once I've asked that same question and if not for my son and my nephew that's here with me, I wouldn't be," he said.
He hopes his descendants will keep the operation, which milks more than 100 cows. The farm was started by his grandfather and is 106 years old, but he's not running a museum. Businesses need to make money.
"If the milk prices had stayed as low as they were last summer, we wouldn't have survived," he said. Increasing government regulation, the vagaries of the market and encroaching subdivisions are all pressuring him.
"I've got neighbors who move right next to my fence and the first thing they tell me is 'Hey, they (the cows) stink.' "And I say, 'They were here first.' "
Hamblin's dairy farm represents agriculture as it used to be along the Wasatch Front. Two recent studies on the status of farms in Utah and the Mountain West show that sort of agriculture has declined rapidly as part of the overall economy.
At the same time, the studies say, a newer, smaller urban farm is thriving and even expanding.
The 2010 State of the Rockies Report Card, issued last month by Colorado College, a private college in Colorado Springs, says Utah and the seven states surrounding it have changed dramatically in the last 80 years, leaving their agricultural roots far behind.
The percentage of people engaged in agriculture has dropped from a high of 35 percent in 1920 to less than 2 percent now.
"Today, although only 3 percent of Rockies residents are employed by agriculture and 1 percent are farmers, agricultural land occupies 40 percent of the region," the report stated.
The surviving farms "help maintain open space and habitat for wildlife as well as sustain the rural and scenic qualities of the Rockies region."
That fits with a report from the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research on the rise of urban farming on the Wasatch Front.
The study looked at Weber, Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties to see how agriculture along the Wasatch Front has changed under the onslaught of massive urbanization.
Davis County, as recently as 1970, was almost exclusively rural farmland.
The study says that in 2008 farming accounted for $218 million of personal income in Utah, and $511 million of the gross state product.
A sizable chunk of that farming work is done along the Wasatch Front. There are 4,259 farms with 608,000 acres. That's one-fourth of the state's total number of farms.
Urban farms on smaller plots have increased in number over the past 40 years. The counties lost 434,000 acres of farmland between 1974 and 2007, the study showed, but the number of farms went up 20 percent, with 78 percent of them smaller than 50 acres.
Typical is the Stone Farm, also Weber County's oldest farm, in the Bingham Fort area of Ogden.
The Stone Farm, now 40 acres, was established in 1851 and is the only pioneer-era farm left in the county.
The farm survived because of luck. It is on 2nd Street, west of Wall Avenue, and until the mid-1990s, that street dead-ended at Defense Depot Ogden.
When DDO closed in 1997 there were four pioneer-era farms on that street. Once DDO became Business Depot Ogden and the street was opened up, three of those farms were sold to developers.
Anna Keogh is head of one of two families that, jointly, are descended from the Stone Farm's founder and still operate the farm. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
Keogh sells fresh eggs and pumpkins and raises hay to sell to a dairy farmer in Hooper.
But, she said, she knows that's no way to make a living.
"We are actually brainstorming some ideas where we will have a more interesting urban farm here.
"Whether that will be organic farming, or growing plants for landscaping, or something else, the family has not decided."
Meanwhile, she's developing an Internet web site to tell people the history of the farm and the area around it
Down in Syracuse, Hamblin is happy he can still show children "that their milk doesn't fall out of the sky and onto the grocer's shelves."
Hamblin gets a lot of people who ask him to, please, not go out of business.
"That's what everybody keeps telling me, and I even had a Davis County commissioner say 'Keep it up, we need you,' and I said, 'Well, will you make some changes to help me?' but she didn't talk about that."