Written in John Deere green, the big bold letters on the side of the barn announce that this is SUNNYFIELD FARM, EDEN, UT. EST. 1868.

So 155 years ago.

But it’s not long before you realize this is not an old farm.

First, there’s the farmer. Alan Vause is 35 and could pass for younger. Yes, he’s clearly been out in the sun a lot and has the smile lines to prove it, but he acts, talks and walks like a bona fide millennial.

Second, there’s the new-age kind of place Alan’s running. His specialty is Scottish Highland cows — they’re considered the Mercedes Benz of beef cows; he feeds them nothing but grass, most of which he grows himself, none of which contains pesticides or fertilizers.

There’s also free-range pork, lamb, turkey in season (Thanksgiving), fresh eggs, pumpkins in season (Halloween), garlic, honey straight from the hive, butter from fresh cream, cheese from raw milk (the last three items are all sourced in from local suppliers). And that’s just the food that’s for sale at Sunnyfield Farm. Alan also sells photographs suitable for framing of his beloved Scottish Highland cows, a children’s book titled “Go, Tractor, Go,” and ball caps and T-shirts embroidered with the Sunnyfield logo — available on the premises or on his website: Sunnyfield-farm.com.

“I’m a little bit spread out,” he deadpans.

Alan Vause walks in his field while installing irrigation for the coming year at Sunnyfield Farm in Eden, Weber County, on Thursday, June 29, 2023. Vause’s family has farmed the land for the last five generations. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News

Seeing all this, you can’t help but wonder what Joseph Stallings, Alan’s great-great-grandpa, the man who first worked the soil where he is now standing, would say if he could see the place now? Would he ask what in the Sam Hill is going on? And what’s a website?

“You know, I think he’d be proud,” says Alan. “From what I hear, he tried everything too.”

Joseph Stallings arrived soon after the picturesque village of Eden — named after the Biblical garden of the same name when Washington Jenkins, the government surveyor, declared it to be one of the most beautiful places he’d ever seen — was officially platted in 1865.

“Everything you could grow up here he tried,” says Alan of his great-great-grandfather’s efforts at farming in a place with more winter than summer. “He tried peas, he tried sugar beets, he tried radishes, he tried corn, and he grew all kinds of grains. He would load it up on a wagon, pitching hay on top, and with a horse team pull that wagon down Ogden Canyon to see what he could sell. That’s a hard way to make money.”

“I try not to go to Ogden,” he adds. “If I go to Ogden I spend money; if I get somebody from Ogden to come here, they spend money.”

Suffice it to say, through the years there have been a lot of ways and a lot of people named Stallings — and now Vause — trying to make ends meet at Sunnyfield Farm.

Here’s the genealogy: Joseph Stallings passed the farm on to his two sons, Virgil and George, Alan’s great-grandfather.

George passed it on to his son, Lowell, Alan’s grandfather. (An optimistic man, it was Lowell who named it Sunnyfield Farm.)

Alan Vause poses for a portrait at Sunnyfield Farm in Eden, Weber County, on Thursday, June 29, 2023. Vause’s family has farmed the land for the last five generations. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News

When Lowell died in 2005, his children, including Alan’s mother Sharon, divided up the property and sold it off. It appeared there might not be a Stallings’ heir turning the soil.

But then Alan stepped up. He made a deal with the new landowner to take over the old farm and turn it into a new operation.

Why did he do it? There’s really only one answer: farming is in his blood.

He loves the life, he loves seeing things grow, and maybe most importantly, he’d love to give his four children the same kind of upbringing he had.

“I grew up free range on the farm,” he says. “It was heaven to grow up on. It was a blast.”

He tried to get farming out of his system. He graduated from Weber State University with a degree in environmental sciences and bought a lawn care/landscaping business.

That enterprise was doing well, but like a lost love, the farm life called to him.

“I always said I would farm if I could figure out how to make money, but I didn’t want to be a poor farmer that worked all the time,” he says, his words delivered with the dry defeatist wit common to farmers all over the land, “then I became a farmer and it feels like I’m a poor farmer that works all the time.”

Ten hours is a short day.

“Sometimes I think, ‘what did I get myself into?’” says Alan, “but then I look at how far we’ve come, at all the progress we’ve made. I have a dream for this place and it’s moving along, we’re growing, we’re getting our name out there, we’re selling stuff.”

He shrugs and adds another farmerism: “I’m good at doing everything the hardest way possible.”

Maybe. Or maybe he’s just good at knowing where he fits and how satisfied it makes him feel being there. He’s the fifth generation in the Stallings line who have worked the same piece of ground since Ulysses S. Grant was president. His kids represent the sixth generation. Think about that. That’s not a trend. That’s a dynasty.

Alan Vause poses for a portrait at Sunnyfield Farm in Eden, Weber County, on Thursday, June 29, 2023. Vause’s family has farmed the land for the last five generations. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News