UINTAH — Tyson Lloyd left a well-paying corporate gig in America's capital to become a farmer on a small plot of land in Weber County's second smallest incorporated city.
It's a decision he didn't come by lightly, he says, but one that he would make again, in a heartbeat.
Originally from the Salt Lake Valley, Lloyd was working for LexisNexis in Washington, D.C. when he decided his life was in need of a major shift.
"(In D.C.) I was doing the corporate thing and my wife was going to school, but I just wasn't fulfilled," he said. "I just knew I needed to do something different."
Something different, Lloyd decided, was farming.
To kickstart his vision for the future, Lloyd started an internship growing vegetables at an outfit called the Bois d’Arc Farm in Marion, Alabama. After the hands-on agriculture tutelage, the Utah State University graduate decided to combine his newfound knowledge with his Masters degree in Business Administration.
He and his wife Jacqueline moved back to Utah and began running the Better Food Farm on some land in Uintah, long owned by Jaqueline's family.
"It's a pretty small space," Lloyd says of his farm. "It's in a neighborhood, but it's a little more rural than your typical suburban area. The are remnants of an old orchard (grown by Jaqueline's great-grandfather) and there's a 100-year-old cherry tree, so it's got some meaning for us."
Lloyd's current operation, which involves roughly 1.5 acres of actual growing space, consists of locally grown vegetables, free of petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides. He says his focus is on creating healthy soil where the most nutritious plants can thrive. Lloyd says the process results in produce that is tastier, more nutrient dense and more environmentally friendly than what comes from typical high-yield farming.
"The taste (and higher nutrient content) is obviously important," Lloyd said. "But environmentally, it's better for the water supply, the air quality, the health of the farmer."
His crops take about 60 to 90 days to mature and he's constantly rotating them to maximize yields in such a small space. Lloyd says he's "not a zealot, by any means," but believes having an abundant supply of local food sources is important for several reasons.
"I think of the expression 'in times of plenty,'" he said. "I think we always count on having 'times of plenty' — the money to buy the food, the resources to ship it all over, having good relationships with those that produce it. If we become overly dependent on a food supply that is thousands of miles away, that could eventually be a problem."
Lloyd says local farming is also good for local economies. He says when money circulates through a community, more people in that community stand to benefit.
"Don't get me wrong, I'm all about free trade," he says. "But when we're sending money to California to buy produce there, we're not doing all we can for the economy locally. In my ideal world, we'd have tighter communities where people support local farms, bakeries, butchers. I think we'd be much better off in so many ways."
But that dream probably won't be achieved through traditional means, Lloyd said. He laments the accelerated disappearance of affordable, farmable land, particularly in Northern Utah.
"We can't produce much food in our subdivisions if we're using all the space to grow grass," he said.
The University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute predicts Utah's population will increase from just over 3 million today to 5.8 million by 2065. As land once used to produce local food turns to subdivisions, Lloyd says smaller-scale farming similar to his operation, should be the wave of the future.
"I think it will be better to have a 100 small farms than a handful of bigger ones," he said. "Times are changing and we've got to get creative when it comes to sustainability. I hope we can kind of be an example of that."