Raspberry contest turns into 21 years of farming for Tagge family
May 17, 2018 02:29PM
By Holly Vasic
Thayne Tagge standing next to himself at Tagge’s Famous Fruit and Veggie Farms fruit stand on Highway 89 on May 10, 2018. (Holly Vasic/City Journals)
By Holly Vasic | h.v[email protected]
From Holladay to Willard Bay, Thayne and Cari Tagge never expected to be first-generation farmers, but after over 20 years they are still enjoying the ride. Tagge’s Famous Fruit and Veggie Farms grew from a fun-loving raspberry selling competition into a way of life that they hope will be carried on.
The fragrant smell of burning wood, like one would find sitting around a campfire, was in the air along Highway 89 in the Perry/Willard area on May 10, as Thayne Tagge was preparing his orchards for the upcoming season by cutting away and burning the old to make room for the new blossoms and growth. Small buds could be seen on some of the apricot trees and early planting of tomatoes had begun in hot houses. The first hints of spring were all around, from sprinkles of green in the fields to the bright sunshine, bringing the hope of a prosperous year for Tagge’s and all the farmers and land owners on Fruit Highway.
Thayne and his wife, Cari, both grew up in the Holladay area, and during their engagement they sold Bear Lake raspberries. “She had a stand and I had a stand and we kind of competed against each other to see who would sell them the fastest,” Thayne said.
One day his best customer asked if he could bring down some peaches from Brigham City while he was heading back from getting raspberries, so he did. “So, the next day she says, ‘Thayne, I have 10 friends that want peaches too; will you bring down some more?”
Thayne began bringing down peaches and raspberries, and both fruits were very popular — the problem was the peaches began to run out. That particular year there just wasn’t enough to go around. Thayne went to all the regular farmers he purchased from but no one had any more to sell. He ended up with one farmer he bought from often. “I finally said, ‘Paul, I need more peaches, so I need to buy your farm,’ and he goes, ‘okay.’” Thayne put some money down, but he’d never farmed before. So he asked Paul to teach him how to farm, and he agreed.
Twenty one years, a few kids and much more land later, Thayne looks at his orchards with Willard Bay in the distance. He and his family still live in Holladay, Thayne commuting an hour or so to get out to their property, but he doesn’t mind the drive.
Thayne values organic farming, and Tagge’s is certified organic by Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI). “You can’t use any pesticides, you can’t use any commercial fertilizer, you have to use everything that is approved by OMRI,” Thayne said. Part of the burning after pruning is also a form of organic pest control. “There’s bugs that are in there, it’s a really good way to keep your pest control down.” In May the bugs haven’t come out yet, so, according to Thayne, it is a good time to burn. “Get in there and get it done right,” he said.
Thayne’s daughter Lacey is the only one of his children thus far who has shown interest in carrying on the legacy he began. She recently purchased property herself and they are preparing the land to potentially grow pumpkins.
Thayne and Cari have found lots of unique ways to get their famous fruit and veggies to customers, from their fruit stand on Highway 89 to farmers markets in Salt Lake. “We hit all the farmers markets,” Thayne said. Seven years ago, they started a seasonal delivery service of their favorites, and their salsa and jams are available throughout the year. Look out for them this summer, especially if fresh apricots are on your list. “We’ll be some of the only ones in the state because we are high on the hill and it stays just a little bit warmer,” Thayne said about the small peach-like fruit. “We always get some nice apricots coming in.”
First-generation farmers and life-long Holladay residents Thayne and Cari Tagge are making a name for themselves at the table and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.