Reynolds and his family run the Kuna, Idaho, farm as a cohesive unit to optimize water and weed management as well as rotations. Crops include sweet corn seed, grain and silage corn, sugar beets, peppermint, alfalfa seed and hay, seed wheat and barley.
Dairy and meat ventures add diversity. New enterprises aim to provide consumers with high-quality, affordable products at a margin that is more stable than that found in commodity agriculture.
“We are not efficient enough because our fields are too small and we are gravity-irrigated. We need to add value somehow,” said Reynolds, 58.
The farm raises steers and pigs, grazing them on ground less suited to crops. Wholesome Farm Products LLC, which started this year and recently hired a full-time manager, sells beef and pork directly to consumers. It so far has sold about 45 steers, processed and packed by local butcher shops.
The new Grandiflora Flower Farm LLC, which also has a new hire, grows and arranges fresh and dried-and-cut flowers for florists and others. It also likely will sell mint oil.
“In both enterprises, we are just looking at trying to take stuff we raise on the farm and go directly to the end consumer,” Reynolds said.
The farm is in its second year running Working Warriors LLC, which hires young people to “top” corn. On July 15, a crew of 79 de-tassled sweet corn, a month-long project on more than 200 acres.
Dave and Karla Reynolds, a Nampa elementary school principal who for years kept the farm’s books, have four children. All are involved in the food and farming industry.
Tyler, 31, runs the dairy and works with his father in managing operation-wide logistics. Jessica, 28, handles farm financials and consumer marketing. Mack, 32, works for a farm cooperative in northern Idaho. Libby, 23, is dietitian in Washington state. A daughter, Amanda, died in a car accident six years ago.
The family headcount inspired the name of the dairy, R7, which is now in its eighth year of milking.
Reynolds always had great interest in growing crops. He was less interested in mechanics, one of Tyler’s strengths.
“Also, I’m less comfortable with animals,” he said. “I get it. I understand it. I also am smart enough to know I need good people doing it.”
Reynolds graduated from the University of Idaho in agriculture in 1984, first working as a farmer and field agronomist. His parents, his brother and sister, and various colleagues provided key early help. He began farming full-time in 1989.
The farm now consists of about 1,900 rented and 300 owned acres. It employs 24 people year-round.
“We’ve had a lot of gracious landlords over the years” including his parents, Mary and Dale, he said.
Some landlords offered high-quality sites as encouragement to expand, while others had tougher spots that taught lessons about getting the best out of a piece of ground, he said.
“The capital requirements and the tenacity requirement are high,” Reynolds said.