Dara (flowering carrot)
This year, dara, or flowering carrot, is Easy Bee Farm owner Rhonda Gotway-Clyde’s favorite flower. Its long stems culminate in a dusky, purple-tinted umbel, similar in shape to the hemlock flower. This is just one of the many gorgeous flowers I got to see during a recent visit to the farm with Plenty Hubbard, Moonflower’s Produce Manager. Rhonda and Farm Manager Kelli Griffin showed us around the farm and talked about their operations, growing practices, and plans and dreams for the future.
The farm is so well kept, I almost couldn’t believe we were in the right place when Plenty and I arrived for the tour. I thought, “This can’t be a farm… it’s way too neat and orderly!” To give you an idea of how immaculate the farm is, they occasionally hold dinners, events, and weddings at the farm, and it looks like they could have one at any moment. The breezeway and converted garage that is now a greenhouse are decorated with beautiful mosaic designs that Rhonda artfully created herself. The farm’s tidiness is a testament to Rhonda’s attention to detail, high standard of cleanliness, and how well she has her systems dialed. Originally from Illinois, she’s been living and growing food in Moab for over 30 years. An Indiana transplant, Kelli has been in Moab for the last 5+ years. They work with a team of about 5 other part-time farmhands, and 8-10 CSA worker-members help with the weekly harvest.
Kelli (left) and Rhonda (right)
Easy Bee is a CSA (community supported agriculture) and small market farm. They grow organic fruits, vegetables, and flowers on their three acres on Easy Street in Spanish Valley, just seven miles from downtown Moab. The farm was established in 2007 by a group of women who got together to grow their own food on just ¼ of an acre; it became a registered farm tract in 2013 and in 2015 that plot started selling to our community.
Easy Bee’s CSA members sign up for the program in late winter and then receive seasonal produce freshly harvested each week from May through October. This model ensures that the farm can cover its operating costs with the support of its members’ initial investment, even if they experience crop failure or a poor growing year.
Easy Bee has also developed working relationships with local restaurants, selling produce to 98 Center, Il Posto Rosso, Sabaku, and more, as well as to Moonflower Co-op. They have been selling to the co-op since 2016, and now some community members specifically ask when they will be delivering so they can get the freshest local produce available! In the spring, their overwintered spinach, kale, and carrots fly off the shelf.
Part of Easy Bee’s mission is also to support healthy habitat for the pollinators and people who grow the crops. To that end, they have worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to procure funding for berms and hedges with native, pollinator-friendly vegetation. It’s clearly working: Plenty of bees, butterflies, and other insects buzzed about as we walked around on the perfect bluebird summer day of our tour. There are also two beehives on the farm, as well as 14 new chickens that are being integrated into the older flock.
Easy Bee uses an organic, regenerative approach to farming and follows the biodynamic calendar to time their weeding, planting, and harvesting. They have noticed that if they weed on certain nights in accordance with the phases of the moon, it actually makes a difference in how fast the weeds will grow back! According to Easy Bee: “Regenerative agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems. It focuses on topsoil regeneration and strengthening, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting biosequestration, and increasing resilience to climate change.” One way Easy Bee does this is by making and using their own compost, with help from a machine that forks, mixes, turns, and lifts their compost pile. This compost returns organic matter to the soil and creates nutrient dense produce.
The farm grows a stunning variety of crops, including kale, spinach, sorrel, arugula, lettuce, chard, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, cabbage, kohlrabi, basil, carrots, beets, nanking cherries, radishes, bok choy, herbs, turnips, peas, beans, squashes, potatoes, onions, and more! And of course, a personal favorite area of the farm, the rows of flowers of dazzling colors, shapes, and textures, including Asiatic lilies, echinacea, bachelor’s buttons, black eyed Susans, and bells-of-Ireland.
Bachelor’s button (aka cornflower)
Easy Bee is very excited to be opening a farmstand in March 2023, where they will sell their produce and value added items. Rhonda has the whole thing planned out with new wash stations and areas for processing and preparing food items more efficiently. She even has a set of beautiful old rustic doors from historic Star Hall in downtown Moab that will be installed. Staying true to their collective roots, they also plan on selling items from their Farmers Collective. They are passionate about increasing accessibility and markets for more growers in the area, hosting learning opportunities for aspiring growers, and creating a more vibrant, resilient, local food system.
Be sure to check out our local grower board in the co-op to the left of the produce department. And keep an eye out for carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and garlic from Easy Bee this season!
Our mutually beneficial relationship with Easy Bee Farm provides them with a predictable market and our patrons with a regular supply of their fresh, beautiful produce. By supporting our local growers and producers, we keep our money in the community, increase our food security, build relationships and resilience, and promote sustainable farming practices.
Easy Bee says: “Our relationship with the Moonflower team is invaluable. Moonflower is there for our community of farmers. Thank you Moonflower!”
Follow Easy Bee Farm on their website, Instagram, and Facebook.