By Wendy Sweeter,
Saylor Benson offers produce and canned goods at farmers markets in the area from her Creek View Farm between Tea and Lennox. Photo: Wendy Sweeter
Saylor Benson grew up in town, but her grandparents’ farm between Tea and Lennox has always held a special place in her heart.
The farm that she and her family has lived on for the past year and a half has been in her family for a hundred years this year. Her grandfather built the barn in 1947 that they are now working to restore after storms this spring.
When she was a fifth-grader she got to paint a dried gourd in one of her classes. That sparked her interest in gardening and her grandpa allowed her to grow a large garden on the farm since then.
Now an adult, Benson has turned that garden into a business. She sells the produce from the garden at farmers markets, as well as the canned products she makes. She named the farm Creek View Farm due to the creek that runs past the east side of their home.
“This farm meant so much to me and my dad growing up. Right on the other side of this tree grove is where the creek runs through. My sister and I would always play down there and throw rocks in,” she said.
She has been going to Lake Lorraine in Sioux Falls every Thursday except for the first Thursday of the month when she went to downtown Hartford for their market.
Benson noted that the Hartford market has a great crowd with music and a brewery. Lake Lorraine continues to build their market. Now as the farmers markets gets closer to the end of the season, she plans to exhibit at some of the holiday vendor events this fall like the one at Active Faith Chiropractic Oct. 29 and the one at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds Nov. 12.
In her garden, Benson grows pumpkins, watermelons, cantaloupe, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, green beans, peas, carrots, onions, fresh herbs and more. Growing her garden on what is now her farm carries a lot of meaning.
“Being here on this piece of property and how much meaning it has to us is really heartwarming, it keeps me going,” Benson said.
While she has been gardening for the past 15 years, Benson taught herself how to can last spring. She decided to start when she signed up for the Hartford farmers market and her produce was way behind. She got a lot of recipes, books and canning materials from her aunt. She has found some recipes she likes online that are certified canning recipes.
“I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback. It was super heartwarming even last night. We got setup and in the first 30 minutes I had three repeat customers who had brought my jars back to me and they had piles of their orders sitting on my table and I had a line of 10 people at my booth,” Benson said. “I love it that they love it. I never thought something that I did just to fill my booth space was going to turn into what it’s turned into.”
Her children help her with washing jars, getting jars in the canner and helping make baked goods. Her oldest has been making batches of zucchini bread from a family recipe.
While they have a couple of apple, pear and cherry trees, as well as mulberry bushes, Benson is grateful to friends, neighbors and local fruit producers whom she got rhubarb, peaches and strawberries for her jams and jellies.
“Pretty much whatever I can get from local I try,” she said.