History of Sunnyfield
When Joseph Stallings homesteaded in Eden, Utah in 1868, he and his family dug in and built chicken coops, barns, and corrals and began raising alfalfa.
They built a log cabin on the brow of a hill overlooking the north fork of the Ogden River and Joseph’s spring-fed meadow, which now lies beneath Pineview Reservoir.
The Stallings brothers farmed the large homestead with heavy work horses. They hauled hay and pitched it onto large hay stacks. Later they loaded the hay on wagons or sleighs, depending on the time of year, and the boys, particularly the two youngest brothers, Virgil and George, hauled this cash-crop 14 miles to Ogden to sell to the livery stables.
But with the coming of the automobile and the extinction of livery stables, the hay market all but dried up in Ogden Valley. Although land was plentiful, it was difficult for farmers to survive. The hard work continued, but changing times required innovation and experimentation. Farmers were forced to try new crops. Many grew peas, and there were several pea vineries in the valley.
New ideas sprouted in George’s fertile mind. They tried just about everything: peanuts, melons, sweet potatoes, cherries, apples, strawberries, raspberries, dewberries, and celery. They were largely successful.
George raised peas, sugar beets, potatoes, and onions, along with hay and grain. He later specialized in seed potatoes. At different times he tried carrot seed, sugar beet seed, onion seed, alfalfa seed, and even tulip bulbs.
Just about everyone had a few cows, but Virgil began building his dairy herd. The brothers farmed side by side, George on the family homestead, and Virgil on property he acquired just to the north, where the iconic white barns now stand.
George had more ideas than time, and much of the field work fell to his son, Lowell. After graduating from Utah State, Lowell and his wife, Margaret, returned to Eden and helped George run his farm. Virgil had retired from farming and moved to Brigham City, Utah.
In 1950, Lowell and Margaret took over George’s herd of Guernsey cows and replaced them with Holsteins that produced more milk and less butter fat. Year by year they built their award-winning herd of registered Holsteins, which grew to be one of the finest in the state.
Virgil’s farm was now owned by Leslie Olsen, and in the spring of 1958, Lowell and Margaret leased the Olsen farm, eventually buying it, and moved their cows up to the big white barn where 25 cows could be milked at once.
This was the beginning of Sunnyfield Farm and a time of growth for dairy farms throughout Ogden Valley.
Over the next 30 years, Lowell built his herd to 70 cows, breeding several champion milk producers. He leased land throughout Eden to raise enough hay, oats, and barley to feed his herd, and he employed many young men in the neighborhood to milk cows and haul hay. Lowell and Margaret’s son, George, and daughters, Jan, Sharon, and Sandra fed calves, scraped corrals and cut and bailed hay. When the kids married and moved away, Marv and Madelyn Evans and family helped run the farm.
Lowell retired from milking cows in 1987, but he never retired from farming. He did the fall plowing two months before he passed away at the age of 85 in 2005.
The Stallings sisters, Jan Wight, Sharon Vause, and Sandra Jenkins along with their spouses and kids kept raising alfalfa and tried new ideas, too: dried flowers, bees, beef cattle, a sheep dairy run by Sue and Stig Hansen, and most recently an organic CSA run by Pete and Katy Rasmussen.
As the next generation of Stallings farmers step on the land and dig in their shovels, they’ll keep doing what farmers in Eden have been doing for 150 years, working hard, innovating, and changing to keep farming going.
Sunnyfield Farm and the big white barns are here to stay.
Written by: Sandra Stallings Jenkins
Alan Vause, the grandson of Lowell Stallings, is now farming Sunnyfield Farm. With him he brings ambition, big dreams and the legacy of hard work.