‘We’re raising kids and raising vegetables’; Ivins father guides sixth generation of family farmers

The Hafen family weeds a row of cucumbers to prepare for sale, Ivins, Utah, June 11, 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

IVINS — Jeff Hafen and his wife, Becky, have raised their six children from the ground up – literally. The family has a half-acre garden where their kids grow a variety of vegetables they sell every Saturday on the street in front of their grandfather’s house in Ivins.

Three days a week, the parents and kids pick vegetables and get them ready for the Saturday sale. The other days are spent weeding and watering the garden.

“We’re LDS,”  Jeff Hafen said. “We’re supposed to have family meeting night on Mondays, but we have a family weeding night.”

Crowds arrive early for fresh produce at the Hafen family vegetable stand in Ivins on Red Mountain Road. Ivins, Utah, June 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

The Hafen children come by their gardening skills naturally. They are the sixth generation of Hafens to grow produce on the land. John George Hafen was one of the pioneer settlers of Santa Clara and raised produce to sell to miners in Nevada. Jeff Hafen said his grandfather raised melons, peaches and vegetables and would travel north on what is now Interstate 15, selling his produce door-to-door.

“We’d knock on doors and ask people if they’d like to buy some peaches or melons. Maybe that’s where all this began,” he said, looking out over the lush garden where two of his children were weeding cucumbers.

The current crop of kids has been growing and selling vegetables for some eight years.

The two oldest, Caylor Hafen, who is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints in Bolivia, and Kamri Larsen, who recently married and moved north to attend Brigham Young University, began farming about eight years ago.

That leaves the four youngest – Brooklyn, Jake, Dansie and Kade – to carry on the garden tradition.

“Dad does so many things for us,” Brooklyn said. “He’s right beside us all the time, and all the money is used for college or missions.”

The homegrown farmer’s market draws a steady stream of customers every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m where beets, radishes, squash and other vegetables can be had for 25 cents each. Larger produce, eggs and homemade zucchini breads are slightly more.

Nine-year-old Kade Hafen (left) helps a customer at the Saturday family sale of vegetables in Ivins, Utah, June 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

All the produce is grown without chemicals and is kept fresh throughout the week as the produce is washed, placed in plastic bags and then stored in four refrigerators for the Saturday sale.

The Saturday market depends on word of mouth and small, homemade signs placed around the area at key intersections in Ivins.

Like many other things on the Hafen compound, everything is used. The signs are made from “scrap paint and scrap lumber,” Jeff Hafen explained.

The farming is hard work and 14-hour days are common, Becky Hafen said.

“But we have a common goal, and we’re with each other. We don’t just give the kids a job, we work with them,” she said. “We’re with them the whole time.”

“We have fun while we work,” Jeff Hafen said. “It’s a family activity. Whether we’re working at home or here, we’re working together.”

The kids don’t have electronic devices, other than Brooklyn’s cell phone that comes in handy when they run short on beets on a Saturday and need to order more from the garden in back.

“They don’t have all that,” Jeff Hafen said. “They’re developing people skills, helping people and learning how to communicate.”

“It helps them with their money, math skills, too,” added Becky Hafen.

Brooklyn bragged on her little brother on a recent Saturday morning.

L-R: The Hafen kids, Kade, Dansie, Jake and Brooklyn, enjoy their vegetable sale in Ivins, Utah, June 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

“This one,” she said pointing down at 9-year-old Kade, “can make change in his head. He’s amazing.”

The Hafen family farm is located practically at the base of Red Mountain in Ivins. The 90-acre farm is surrounded by housing and the nearby Red Mountain Elementary School. It’s land Jeff Hafen says he loves.

“I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” he said. “You get that red dirt in your blood. I love these red rocks. I hope I never have to leave.”

Jeff Hafen is service manager at Findlay Kia and spends his evenings and Saturdays in the garden with the kids when he’s not at work.

“It’s a lot of work, but we’re raising kids and raising vegetables,” he said proudly.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • DRT June 17, 2018 at 8:49 am

    What a refreshing article! These parents and their kids should be a beacon to other families.

  • Lee Saunders June 18, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    I’m a neighbor and really appreciate the Hafens and their farm, especially the lush alfalfa fields. I hope they can remain forever. The kids are amazing and fun to watch doing business. It’s like a feeding frenzy at 8 AM when they open for business!

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