History of Blue Mountain Ranch and Young’s Farm:
Established in 1946, Elmer Young raised his family and a variety of produce and livestock on his 300-acre farm in Dewey, Arizona. For 60 years the Young’s farmed a wide range of crops including pinto beans, field corn hay, onions, squash, cucumbers, and green beans. Also, they tried their hand at raising rabbits, hogs, beef cattle, laying hens and dairy heifers; but in the early 1970’s the Young’s introduced their sweet corn to the public and quickly became a destination point in the state of Arizona. Soon to follow the golden kernelled corn was a rare, farm raised, “all natural” selection of fresh chickens and turkeys sold through the quaint country store located on the farm. Enveloping the idea of visitors to the family’s small but productive farm in central Arizona, the Young’s embarked onto a new phase of agriculture through pumpkins and festivals in the mid 1980’s.
Over the last 30 years, Young’s Farm has become famous for sweet corn, pumpkins, chickens, turkeys and incorporating a hands-on, interactive approach to family fun on their farm. Through hayrides, festivals, picking pumpkins, fresh squeezed apple cider, just picked produce, a country store, farm restaurant, nursery and gift shop, bakery and a petting zoo (whew!) the Young family enjoyed sharing their farm with customers and friends and all kinds of families in Arizona.
2006 marked the final year of operation for Young’s Farm. Hosting its 21st annual Pumpkin Festival, its 27th year of fresh poultry and retail marketing and its 60th year of productive farming, the Young’s ended operations in Dewey, Arizona and moved to a cattle ranch in Central Oregon. You are invited to learn more about the Blue Mountain Ranch in Paulina Oregon by visiting our new website www.bluemtnranch.com
With tremendous gratitude, sincere honor and deep appreciation to all of the customers, friends, families and loved ones who helped make Young’s Farm so successful, the Young family says “Thank You” and “God Bless”.
January 2007 –
I would suspect that most everyone in Arizona, who was interested, has been informed, by one means or another, of the status of Young’s Farm and our product availability. Much information has become available through our own publications, the media and of course “word of mouth”; most of it being accurate and informative. The struggle to Save Young’s Farm and the process of selling it have been an emotional roller coaster for the members of the Young family as well as our customers and friends.
We have updated this section of the website to hopefully give you a better understanding of the events that occurred over the last 7 years leading to our decision to sell the farm, the basic process of marketing and selling the farm as well as the future of “Young’s Farm” and the Young Family. The links provided on the right will offer a more detailed explanation through series of letters and publications regarding 1) Fight to Save Young’s Farm, 2) End of the Save Young’s Farm Effort, 3) The Sale of Young’s Farm.
In 1998 a developer interested in buying Young’s Farm held a meeting with Gary and Elmer Young. During that meeting he informed Gary and Elmer that they “had to sell the farm”. After the doubtful look and raised eyebrows the developer received as a response, he explained the information that would eventually change the course of the future of Young’s Farm.
The Prescott Active Management Area (AMA), which includes the Young’s Farm property, had declared ground water mining (more water pumped than recharged) and an effort was underway to stabilize the groundwater table. One of the means to stabilize the water table was to have all irrigation water (farms) converted to development water (houses) and a rule was put into effect to encourage farmers to extinguish their ground water rights and convert them into development water rights. Every year they hesitated, their land would devalue by approximately 4%. (See: From Farm Land to Houses article)
Through great work and effort from local legislators the Governor signed what became knows as the “Young’s Farm Bill”; a 10-year window where the value of the land would not decrease by 4% each year, but would devalue by 40% after 10 years, thus, giving landowners time to seek other alternatives beyond “sell and sell now.” (See: Hope for the Future and Young’s Farm Bill articles)
Next, the Youngs partnered with a local land trust, The Central Arizona Land Trust (CALT), and a national organization called The Trust for Public Land (TPL) to pursue raising the funds so TPL could purchase the development rights of Young’s Farm and the land would then remain as agricultural land forever. (See: Case Statement articles) In order to accomplish this task the Youngs went to local Senators and Representatives to establish the Arizona Agriculture Heritage Act (later to be named the Arizona Agriculture Protection Program) which formed a commission to receive and allocate funds to agricultural land owners who wanted to protect their farms and ranches from development. (See: Arizona Agriculture Heritage Act article)
The “Campaign to Save Young’s Farm” was underway and gained enormous ground when TPL received the first ever Federal Farmland Protection Grant to Arizona for Young’s Farm. (See: Letter from the Governor article) This grant provided one half of the amount needed to purchase the development rights of the farm, IF, the other half was raised by the date of September 30, 2004. This deadline gave TPL, CALT and the Youngs two years to save the farm. Over the next two years we applied for other grants, gave informative presentations, collected donations from customers and businesses, held raffles and completed many other fund raising ideas.
As we began to see the campaign to save the farm gain steam, we went back to the legislature to pursue the security of our water once the farm became “protected farmland.” We lobbied for House Bill 2476 – Water rights for Protected Farmland. (See article) This bill would freeze the continual decrease of available water at the time the land became “protected” (placed under a conservation easement), and give the landowners a secure amount of water to use for farming.
Through the first one and a half years of our campaign to save the farm, we received incredible support from customers through letters, donations and offerings of help. We also had huge success at the legislature passing bills that provided agricultural landowners incentives to keep their land in agriculture. However, even with the Federal Farmland Protection grant and generous support from the community TPL was far from reaching the goal of raising 3.5 million dollars to purchase the development rights of Young’s Farm.
Again, returning to the government we emphasized the importance of funding the newly established Arizona Agriculture Protection Program so we (TPL and CALT) and others could apply for those funds to use towards our projects. (See: Fund the AZ Agriculture Protection Program 1 & 2 articles) Also, we applied for a highway development grant through the state board of transportation. Our grant received the second highest priority rating from the state and we were almost certain of its acceptance from the members of the state Transportation Board; which was vital as our time to match the Federal Farmland Protection Grant had expired and we were counting on this award to convince the Federal Program to allow us another year of fundraising. (See: Last Chance article)
Unfortunately, neither of these efforts proved fruitful and by January of 2005 TPL withdrew their involvement and we declared an “End to the Save Young’s Farm Campaign“. (See: articles under this link)
Once the “Save the Farm” effort ended and we regrouped with a positive look towards the future we began to market our property and search for another agricultural community and piece of land to reside. By June of 2005 we chose Monogram Companies and Tom Chambers Properties as the buyers of our farm and made a deal to continue to operate Young’s Farm through December of 2006. (See: Sale of Young’s Farm articles) The summer of 2005 also revealed a small town in Central Oregon that offered a vast cattle ranch for sale. The Blue Mountain Ranch included abundant running water, blue skies, a large heard of mother cows, hay pasture, forest grazing permits and the rural lifestyle we longed for.
So, during the year 2006, we hosted our final series of festivals and fresh chicken, seasons of hay, sweet corn, pumpkins, and homegrown turkeys as well as simultaneously moving to Paulina Oregon and operating our first year as cattle ranchers. 2007 will complete the tear down, closing and moving process as we auction items in Arizona and establish ourselves in the agricultural friendly environment of Central Oregon.