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Salt Lake couple follows their dream, cultivates urban farm

By Kelly Just | Posted - Jun. 24, 2011 at 8:45 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — Claudia and Nick Norton love to grow their own food.

“We’re both just really committed to sustainability and organic food,” Claudia Norton said. “It tastes better, it’s better for you.”

"I’ve kind of gotten into this localvore kind of thing where everything is done locally," Nick Norton said.

In May 2010 they bought a parcel of land right next to their house in the Liberty Wells neighborhood to start an urban garden. But the project, near 1400 South and 400 East, had to be put on hold until Salt Lake City ordinances caught up with the couple's dream.


We love the whole idea of sustainability and have really been thankful to take advantage of these new ordinances that encourage this kind of activity.

–Claudia Norton


In the meantime, they could only have a small vegetable garden in the backyard. They grew a lot of vegetables, including eggplant, beets, lettuce, carrots and onions.

On May 3, Salt Lake City passed an urban agricultural ordinance giving the Nortons the go ahead to expand to their garden to fill an entire city lot. The couple wasted no time transforming the property, starting with the demolition of the abandoned house.

“You have to have some vision. This is a work in progress, emphasis on work,” she said.

They tried to reuse everything they could from the old house. A front door, windows, moldings and maple flooring were used to restore a shed where they will extract honey from their beehives and store all of the hive equipment.

So what do the neighbors think of the garden?

“They are so supportive and just great,” she said. “They come over and they’ll help pick.”

The Nortons say people stop by all the time wanting to know if it's a community garden.

"It's a private project, as far as us laying it out and seeing what we can do with it," she explained. It's a community garden, she added, in the sense that they hope to share everything in the future.

Claudia Norton works on planting her herb garden in the Liberty Wells neighborhood of Salt Lake City.
Claudia Norton works on planting her herb garden in the Liberty Wells neighborhood of Salt Lake City.

Just on Friday, the owner of local Thai restaurant visited to see what the Nortons have planted and talked about a possible food trade.

If this year's crop is anything like last year's tomato yield, the Nortons will have plenty to go around. They canned over 300 jars of food!

The new city rules allow them to sell their fruits and veggies. For now, the Nortons are focused on cultivating their dream.

"We both love gardening,” she said. “We love the whole idea of sustainability and have really been thankful to take advantage of these new ordinances that encourage this kind of activity.”

The couple, who are musicians and play with the Utah Symphony, say the urban garden is more like a retirement hobby.

The Nortons' urban farm is the first one up and running since the May zoning change, but according to city planning manager Joel Paterson, there are similar projects already in the works.

Email:vvo-duc@ksl.com,Email:

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