Alpenglow Farm's Story
The beginning of Alpenglow Farm actually began with a band called Loose Ties. Ted Wells and his bandmates had moved to Jackson, Wyoming in the fall of 1985 to play in their bluegrass band by night and ski by day. Shortly after moving to Jackson, Ted decided to settle down on the quieter side of the Tetons: Victor, Idaho. He created a small garden on the five-acre piece land he bought, and while providing food for the valley hadn’t yet crossed his mind, gardening and producing his own food were already integral to Ted’s life.
Ted spend his younger, formative years on the east coast: Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York, where he went to college. He remembers his parents’ and grandparents’ gardens vividly--a jungle of kaleidoscopic flowers and sumptuous tomatoes. When he entered college Ted lived off-campus, renting a house from a dairy farm family. Ever the frugal man, Ted used cow manure to cultivate a garden and grow some of his own food rather than buy it.
It’s the early 90s, and while the the band was doing well it had also run its course, and Ted began to consider what he wanted to do beyond music. He’d bought a five acre plot of land and decided to make his small garden into a bigger garden. At this time there wasn’t much of a small farm scene, so Ted was able to rise into the local food movement seamlessly. He began by selling his produce to a few chefs and caterers he’d met from playing music at weddings and other events. All of this was also before farmers markets really settled into the valley, so Ted would set up produce booths where and when he could. Unfortunately the farmer’s market schedule and the musician’s schedule never harmonized very well, at which point Ted moved to selling his produce directly to customers like Barrels and Bins, Harvest (now Jackson Whole Grocer), Choice Meats (now a rental car lot), and Westside Store (now Aspens Market), in addition to restaurants and caterers. In 1997 Alpenglow Farm became certified organic, and then certified organic under the USDA program in 2002 through the present.
Currently, of the five acres two of those are cultivated in either crops or cover crops that build up and enrich the soil for future crops. Additionally, there are two greenhouses which Ted uses for early and late season greens, tomatoes, basil, and certain flowers that prefer warmer climes. Ted continues to juggle his music schedule with the needs of his farm, but after doing this for more than 25 years he’s been able to find more efficient ways to plant, harvest, and play music, leaving just enough time to cruise mountain trails on his bike. When Ted’s two kids lived at home they helped on the farm from weeding to harvesting; now that they’ve moved out it’s a one-man show in the fields. He’s scaled back since the earlier years of the farm, but you can still find plenty of Ted’s produce on the shelves including spring mix, arugula, spinach, head lettuce, Genovese Basil, Sungold Tomatoes, and lots of garlic.
And what does Ted consider to be some of the greatest rewards of farming in Teton Valley? Clean air, abundant irrigation water directly from the mountains, and the continued positive reception and appreciation from his customers. He loves what he does, and it shows up in the rich appearance and genuine taste of his produce.