EDEN — Pete Rasmussen could talk about garlic all day.
“This is something that is real,” Rasmussen said. “It’s a plant. You put it in the ground, it grows like this majestic beautiful thing in nine months, and it comes out of the ground and you save the seed and multiply it.”
He’s hoping other people who love garlic as much as he does will come to Eden the morning of Saturday, July 8, and help him harvest his crop.
About 10 years ago, Rasmussen held the first “Garlactica,” a large event with music, official T-shirts and more than 100 attendees who showed up to help pull the ripe garlic bulbs from the earth.
The following year was also a big event, but in the years that followed, Garlactica became more about a small group of people just showing up to help Rasmussen harvest.
“We just got too busy to put time into organizing it,” he said.
This year, Rasmussen hopes to get Garlactica going again. Anyone is invited to be in the Harvest Time Farm Mob from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Eden. Attendees will be helping harvest the garlic and are asked to bring water and snacks. Sunscreen and closed-toed shoes are recommended. (RSVP at 801-745-5054 or at Pete@sandhillfarms.org.)
The crop — which Rasmussen said is the best he’s had in a decade -— grows on a piece of land, leased from the Wight family, that abuts Pineview Reservoir near N. 5500 East and E. 1900 North.
Rasmussen plans to sell most of the garlic he’s growing as seed garlic, but he also supplies garlic to high-end chefs all over the country.
One of them is Haru Kishi, the executive chef for Summit Powder Mountain.
Kishi said garlic’s potency makes it fun for a chef to play with in dishes.
“So using a good garlic is really a game changer,” he said.
Kishi helped harvest the Rasmussen’s garlic two years ago with a group of about 15 other people and said it was almost like meditating. They picked it early, so the skin was still tender enough to eat.
“You get to be outside in the sun in beautiful Eden, where everything is green and you’re with your friends and you really connect with the land,” he said. “You pull the garlic from the land and smell the soil and it’s really inspiring.”
Kishi said he usually preserves Rasmussen’s garlic, sometimes with brine and salt and sometimes with honey. Rasmussen said garlic grows well in Utah because the climate and soil are similar to its area of origin in Central Asia.
Rasmussen also runs Sandhill Farms, where he grows far more than just garlic. He has a passion for all kinds of farming and sells the scapes, which can be used to make pesto and grow above ground while the garlic matures below.
“I’m passionate in this life about playing a role of connecting people to caring for the Earth,” Rasmussen said. “I believe we’re here to be caretakers and I believe plants play a role in that connection because it’s food.”
For Rasmussen, garlic is a family affair. His toddler, Jorro, joins him in the field sometimes, walking among the green rows.
Rasmussen said he’s happy to make a living doing what he loves and hopes to share that with people at this year’s Garlactica.
“It’s the connection between plants and people in the earth,” he said. “It’s something that’s ancient and has been a part of humankind’s existence forever.”