Chatting with customers about their lives while weighing onions and other produce – that’s part of what Greg Yancy will miss about running Yancy Farms.
After 26 years of operating the business, Yancy said this is their last season.
“Twenty-six years ago I started with a six-foot table,” he said. “... We started it just on a whim, I actually worked at my uncle’s ... every summer and then I decided to open my own.”
Yancy said the farm started with about 150 tomato, 50 cucumber and 50 squash plants the first year. He would get their peaches from his uncle’s place before he had his own trees.
This year, he said, they have around 3,800 tomato, 900 cucumber and 900 squash plants along with everything else – like onions and peaches.
Typically, the farm has 5,500 tomato plants but this year Yancy Farms is operating out of three locations rather than five like in years past.
“You have to produce enough stuff to supply all locations,” Yancy said. “... That’s why I went down to 3,800 tomato plants because we only have three locations.”
Yancy said because of the business, he came out of school, twice, with no debt.
The farm didn’t do any advertising when they first started up, he said, it was all through word of mouth. He said another farm nearby had been closing the owner began to send their customers to Yancy Farms.
“It just kind of boomeranged,” Yancy said.
Yancy also works a full-time job at Sierra Pacific at night so he can run the business during the day.
“I work nights there and run this during the day and my brother does the same thing – he works days and what I don’t get done, he finishes,” he said.
Yancy said with the help of his family they have hand-planted everything they grow.
“My brothers and I put in 523 fruit trees, my mom actually dug all the holes by hand,” he said. “We set the trees and backfilled and my sister-in-laws and my nieces were painting the trees with white paint to keep the rabbits off.”
After years of doing all of this work, Yancy said the family is ready to move on – however, he said he plans to work at Sierra Pacific Lumber for a few more years before officially retiring.
“We’re just ready to close, it’s time,” he said. “We’re all exhausted.”
Yancy said one of his favorite memories was when one morning, they went to use their international tractor but something went wrong and it wouldn’t run. So he and his father pulled their John Deere D from 1947 out of retirement. It was a hand-crank but it got the job done.
“The customers sat there in amazement of seeing antique equipment of the past doing Yancy work,” he said.
However, he said he will mostly miss the people.
“When I started to provide for my education and people supported me because of that,” Yancy said. “... You don’t forget all of those people.”
He said right now, there isn’t an exact date for the closure but they will continue operating they run out of stock – Yancy expects it to be sometime in September.
“The ranch is going to stay running until we’re done,” he said.