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Draper Man Underbids Developers, Buys Property For Farming

DRAPER, Utah — Most of us don’t put that much thought into where our food comes from, but for one Utah man, it’s always been at the front of his mind. Now, he’s doing a whole lot more than just thinking about it.

Seeding the future is what Joachim Hailer does. He’s always dreamed of working on his own farm, but never expected to create one right in the middle of Draper.

You might say soil is in his blood — but he’s following in the footsteps of his parents.

“I was born in West Virginia, but I’ve lived here for a long time,” said Hailer. “They were like homesteaders, like back to the land type people, so I grew up in a situation like this.”

He built his own greenhouse.

Both inside and out, he grows his own food. He eats everything he grows and also runs a business called Fine Tilth Farms.

Hailer regularly sells his bounty at local markets, and even right out in front of his home.

Though he had some experience as a child, he’s largely self-taught — thanks to YouTube.

“It’s not that hard,” he said. “It takes a lot of work, but anything you need to know, you can look on your phone in the field.”

Most days, he works the earth by hand, all by himself. But from time to time, he has a little company.

“Occasionally, I get, you know, the latest Top 40 hits coming over the loudspeakers.”

Right on the other side of his fence sits a high school football field.

“You can’t really see it, right?” Hailer said. “It’s kind of over the hill.”

His space is hardly rural. Although farms once dotted the area, times have changed.

“Even just across the street, what used to be a field is now a bunch of houses,” he said.

The same nearly happened to his place.

“They were either going to tear the house down, or subdivide and just put some condos here,” said Hailer.

The previous owners were ready to sell to a developer, but Hailer was able to save it.

“It was out of our budget, and whenever we bid on it, we bid under asking price,” he said.

They couldn’t compete with investors.

The only thing Hailer could offer was a letter.

“Just outlined our plan of: we wanted to grow stuff — grow veggies,” he said. “They thought it was awesome and so they were willing to take less money to give us a chance to do this.”

So, no matter the weather — either under the sun or inside his greenhouse — Hailer is working the land and fertilizing a different path: growing a little piece of yesterday amid an ever-changing future.

“Every time I see a field turn into houses, it’s disappointing,” he said. “But at the same time, I understand. We live in Draper and it’s not the country.”

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